EPA proposes to alter E15 labeling requirements, UST regs

By Erin Voegele | January 15, 2021

The U.S. EPA on Jan. 15 announced it is proposing changes to E15 fuel dispenser labeling requirements. The agency is also proposing to modify underground storage tank (UST) regulations to accommodate the safe storage of E15 and higher level ethanol blends in retail stations’ existing tanks systems.

In the proposed rule, the EPA said it currently requires specific fuel dispenser labels for gasoline blends of greater than E10 and up to E15. The label was designed to alert consumers to the appropriate and lawful use of the fuel, the agency said.

The EPA is now co-proposing to either modify the E15 label or remove the label requirement entirely. As part of that proposal, the agency is seeking comment on whether state and local governments may be preempted from requiring different labels on fuel dispensers.

To facilitate the proper storage of E15 in USTs, the EPA is proposing to modify the UST regulations to grant certain allowances for compatibility demonstration for storage of ethanol blends. The EPA is also proposing compatibility requirements for future UST installations or component replacements that would ensure compatibility with higher blends of ethanol.

Growth Energy has issued a statement in support of the proposed rule. “We are pleased to see this first step toward removing onerous labeling and underground tank requirements and expanding access to E15 for American drivers,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “With 95 percent of vehicles approved for E15 and over 18 billion miles driven on the fuel, the best outcome for this rulemaking is to remove the label entirely. As the rulemaking process advances, we look forward to working with the incoming Biden Administration to ensure that the final rule addresses any remaining retail and infrastructure barriers that currently hold back cleaner, more affordable options at the fuel pump.”  

The Renewable Fuels Association also supports the proposal on E15 labeling. “RFA is pleased to see that EPA is finally issuing its long-awaited proposal to remove unnecessary barriers to E15 expansion in the marketplace,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the RFA. “We have long supported reforms and changes to the E15 pump label, which has deterred American drivers from using the lower-carbon, lower-cost, more-efficient E15 blend. We also agree that EPA’s current regulations regarding the compatibility of underground storage tanks should be revisited and we are pleased to see that issue being addressed in this proposal. We continue to analyze the E15 proposal and are working with the retail sector to understand how these proposed changes may affect the marketplace.”

The proposed rule is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Jan. 19. The rulemaking will be subject to a 90-day comment period. A pre-publication version of the proposed rule can be downloaded from the EPA website