EPA issues approval for retailers to begin selling E15

By Kris Bevill | June 15, 2012

The U.S. EPA delivered its final stamp of approval for E15 on June 15 by approving the first misfueling mitigation plans (MMPs) for individual companies. The agency’s approval of MMPs was the final step necessary to be cleared before E15 could be sold by retailers for use in 2001 and newer vehicles.

The agency’s approval was heralded by ethanol groups and the USDA as being a victory for American consumers and another step toward achieving energy independence.

“The public has a right to choose between imported oil and homegrown energy and today’s action by the EPA advances that goal,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “Today’s action demonstrates that the Obama Administration is making good on its commitment to work to reduce foreign oil imports and increase domestic energy production, including production of renewable biofuels. In addition, the EPA has fulfilled its responsibility to the American public to ensure that E15 is a safe and reliable fuel. Homegrown biofuels are providing sustainable rural jobs that cannot be exported. Today’s action proves yet again that renewable biofuels are not a dream of the future, but are a reality, and are making a difference today.”

The final issue delaying the EPA’s ultimate approval of MMPs was the agency’s concern over residual fuel left in the hose of a single hose pump, such as a blender pump, used to dispense E15 and other fuels. The agency’s concern was that a consumer who chose to use E10 directly after a consumer had purchased E15 from the same hose could actually receive fuel containing more than 10 percent ethanol because there might be residual E15 in the hose.  According to the EPA, it consulted the Renewable Fuels Association and individual MMP submitters and determined that an addendum to the RFA’s E15 Retailer Handbook provided the necessary information to address that concern.

In a joint statement, the RFA and Growth Energy said the ethanol industry is grateful for support from the White House and agencies involved in bringing E15 to the marketplace. Growth Energy filed the initial E15 waiver request in 2009 and in the three years since filing that request, the industry has worked extensively with the EPA to meet its conditions for approval, the groups said. “Now, America is changing the way it fuels up,” they said in the statement. “Higher level ethanol blends, like E15, offer consumers greater choice at the pump while further reducing our dependence on imported oil. For more than three decades, ethanol has been proven a safe and effective fuel component, reducing tailpipe emissions and improving the quality of our air, while simultaneously providing the much-needed octane to help boost engine performance. Offering E15 is a win-win for American consumers seeking the real options of a cost-effective fuel, which leads to a cleaner environment and increased energy security in America.”

Ron Lamberty, senior vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol, also welcomed the EPA’s final approval of E15. “This announcement means E15 will finally be offered to consumers, and they can decide for themselves what kind of fuel they want to put in their cars,” he said in a statement. “We are confident that when consumers try E15, they will find it’s a safe, quality fuel that costs less than gasoline and runs well in their car, and they will continue to buy it.”