EPA reviewing comments on proposed E15 label

By Kris Bevill | January 05, 2011

The U.S. EPA is in the process of reviewing approximately 1,200 comments received in response to its proposed label for E15. Interested parties had until Jan. 3 to submit comments and suggestions regarding the label proposed by the EPA Oct. 13. Ethanol industry representatives submitted their own proposed labels, stating that the EPA’s proposed version would cause unnecessary concern among drivers and could prevent applicable drivers from using the fuel. Petroleum marketers commented that it will take more than a label for them to begin selling E15.

The EPA’s proposed label is bright orange and features the word “CAUTION!” in a prominent position across the top of the label. The Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and the American Coalition for Ethanol all submitted similar variations of the proposed label, but suggested less alarming colors for the label and recommended omitting the cautionary warning from the top of the label.

The Renewable Fuels Association said in its comments the EPA’s proposed label will do little to promote E15 in the marketplace. “The label as written will seriously impair long-term progress towards achieving the country’s stated goals for renewable fuels,” the group stated. “It unnecessarily will promote skepticism and concern over any future broader approval for E15 and create the false perception that E15 is an inferior fuel.” The RFA’s suggested label features a black border and simply states the fuel should be used only in 2007 and newer gasoline cars and light-duty trucks or flex-fuel vehicles. The label also contains the EPA’s requested legal warning regarding the use of E15 in unapproved vehicles.

ACE’s proposed label is very similar to the RFA’s, but is blue in color. In comments submitted to the EPA, the group stressed that any label for E15 should be simple and based on existing label regulations, such as those for E85, which have been proven successful at preventing misfueling.

Growth Energy’s proposed label differs from the other ethanol group’s proposals in that it displays the word “ATTENTION” across the top of the label. In its comments to the EPA, the group said it would support similar labels for all fuels containing more than 10 percent ethanol, so long as those fuels are not approved for use in all vehicles and engines.Meanwhile, the Petroleum Marketers Association of America stated in its comments that a misfueling mitigation program such as is being attempted through the implementation of a mandatory E15 label will not be enough to convince marketers to introduce the fuel at retail locations. “The majority of petroleum marketers will continue to resist supplying E15 so long as compatibility questions persist with regard to existing retail storage tank system and dispensing equipment, marine engines, motorcycles and non-road power equipment,” the group stated. “These remaining compatibility issues create an unacceptable risk of liability for petroleum marketers that will largely bar the introduction of E15 so long as they exist.” The group urged the EPA’s Office of Air Quality to work closely with the Office of Underground Storage Tanks and the U.S. DOE to resolve underground storage tank issues and to make a decision on the effects of E15 to motorcycles, marine engines and power equipment. “Once these remaining compatibility issues are resolved and the risk of liability is reduced to an acceptable level, PMAA is confident petroleum marketers will fully embrace E15 gasoline blends,” the group stated.

The RFA, ACE and Growth Energy all also urged the EPA to hasten in its decision regarding the use of E15 in vehicle models 2001-2006. In November, the EPA delayed its decision regarding E15 use in those vehicles, stating that the DOE needed more time to complete its testing of those vehicle models. The EPA received those test results last week and confirmed that it is working toward a final decision. “We said previously we’d have a decision shortly after receiving that data, and we’re still on track to do that,” the agency said in a statement.

A final decision regarding the E15 label should be reached in the next few months, according to the agency.