An ethanol/gasoline blend of 15% ethanol (E15) has now been cleared for use in 2001-2006 cars, light trucks and sport-utility vehicles according to a decision announced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
EPA said that based on test data from the Department of Energy (DOE), they have opted to approve E15 for use in 2001-2006 and newer light-duty motor vehicles, subject to the same conditions that apply to the partial waiver decision for 2007 and newer cars and light trucks that was announced in October 2010.
Vehicles that can use E15 include:
- Flexible-fuel vehicles (FFVs).
- MY2001 and newer cars.
- MY2001 and newer light-duty trucks.
- MY2001 and newer medium-duty passenger vehicles. (SUVs).
Vehicles that cannot use E15:
- All motorcycles.
- All vehicles with heavy-duty engines, such as school buses, transit buses, and delivery trucks.
- All off-road vehicles, such as boats and snowmobiles.
- All engines in off-road equipment, such as lawnmowers and chain saws.
- All MY2000 and older cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles (SUVs).
EPA also set conditions for the use of E15 in the 2001 and newer cars and light trucks, including a requirement for labeling of the dispensers to prevent misfueling and other steps.
As for the labels, EPA held a public hearing on the proposed rule and received many written comments by Jan. 3, 2011. EPA said it would " address the public's comments in the final rule. When issued, the rule is expected to provide the most practical methods of satisfying the conditions of both partial waiver decisions."
EPA stressed, however, that before E15 can be distributed and sold, there are requirements that have to be met, including but not limited to "submission of a complete E15 fuels registration application by the fuel and fuel additive manufacturers who wish to introduce E15 into commerce, and EPA review and approval of the application. Various state laws may also affect the sale and distribution of E15."
Other factors many in the industry say will dictate sales of E15 will be dispensers that are cleared for E15 and liability issues for misfueling. Those two areas have been identified by many in the industry as factors that will dictate how fast -- or how slow -- E15 becomes available.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a statement welcoming the EPA decision. "Today's announcement is another important step to get existing ethanol production capacity into the market to support and create jobs in rural America, improve our nation's energy security, protect our environment, and provide the renewable fuels industry with the support it needs to grow and mature," said Vilsack. "Expanding the use of E15 in America's vehicle fleet gives consumers the option of purchasing domestically produced renewable transportation fuels and also support America's farmers and ranchers."
The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) also hailed EPA's latest decision on E15, but still called for more action to make the fuel available for more vehicles. "EPA's decision today is a sound one, but it doesn't address the issues that still remain regarding a segmented market place and the introduction of a new fuel," RFA President Bob Dinneen stated. "The RFA will continue to work with EPA and other regulatory bodies to expand ethanol use beyond even 15%. Simultaneously, we will continue our dialogue with lawmakers to develop and implement sound policies that provide the proper incentives to grow ethanol use across a variety of blending levels."
RFA also noted misfueling and liability issues must still be addressed.