The Environmental Protection Agency has given its approval for the first retailers to sell 15% ethanol blended fuel.
"Today, the last significant federal hurdle has been cleared to allow consumers to buy fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol (E15)," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "This gets us one step closer to giving the American consumer a real choice at the pump. The public has a right to choose between imported oil and home-grown energy and today's action by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advances that goal."
EPA announced today the approval of the first Misfueling Mitigation Plans (MMPs) for individual companies after working with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) about how E15 would be dispensed, particularly from blender pumps. According to EPA, it was determined that an addendum to RFA's Retailer Handbook "provided the necessary information for EPA to approve the individual plan submitters' MMPs."
"In the eyes of the federal government, E15 is a legal fuel for sale to cars, pickups, and SUVs made since 2001," said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. "With all i's dotted and t's crossed as far as EPA is concerned, our undivided focus will turn to addressing state regulatory issues, identifying retailers wishing to offer E15, and paving the way to greater use of domestically produced ethanol."
In cooperation with Growth Energy, the RFA has also initiated a nationwide fuel survey program as required by EPA to ensure stations offering E15 are adhering to misfueling mitigation requirements, such as proper labeling, ethanol content, and vapor pressure. "We are committed to ensuring a safe and smooth introduction of E15 for consumers and retailers alike," said Dinneen. "Change often breeds confusion and as stations begin to offer E15, the RFA will proactively work with those retailers to educate consumers on the appropriate use of E15 and the benefits of greater domestic ethanol use. We believe it is possible that gallons of E15 could be sold under the waiver conditions before the end of the summer."
However, RFA notes that hurdles to the widespread adoption of E15 still remain, including pending litigation, threats of congressional intervention to prevent the sale of E15, and state regulatory issues. Also limiting the fast adoption of E15, particularly in summer months, is the requirement that E15 meet stricter federal evaporative emissions standards, known as Reid Vapor Pressure or RVP.