It took three years of fuel testing and regulatory scrutiny – but the Obama Administration has given its final approval for the sale of E15 under the waiver conditions set by the EPA. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says this gets us one step closer to giving the American consumer a real choice at the pump. He says the EPA has fulfilled its responsibility to the American public to ensure E15 is a safe, reliable fuel. Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen says E15 is now a legal fuel for sale to cars, pickups and SUVs made since 2001 in the eyes of the federal government. USDA notes this will help break down the ethanol blend wall – potentially allowing more ethanol into the market. Iowa State University estimates blending ethanol with petroleum keeps the price per gallon at the pump down by around a dollar per gallon.
Dinneen says RFA will now focus on addressing state regulatory issues, identifying retailers wishing to offer E15 and paving the way to greater use of domestically produced ethanol. Those fuel providers and retailers that wish to offer E15 must first register with EPA. They must state their plans to adhere to the RFA’s EPA-approved misfueling mitigation plan. RFA – in cooperation with Growth Energy – has also initiated a nationwide fuel survey to ensure stations that offer E15 are adhering to misfueling mitigation requirements – including proper labeling, ethanol content and vapor pressure. Dinneen says RFA is committed to ensuring a safe and smooth introduction of E15 for consumers and retailers. He says the group will work proactively with retailers that begin to offer E15 to educate consumers on the appropriate use of E15 and the benefits of greater domestic ethanol use. RFA believes it’s possible E15 could be sold under the waiver conditions before the end of the summer.
RFA notes there are still hurdles to widespread E15 adoption. Dinneen says some in the petroleum industry and other anti-biofuel voices will work to prevent E15 from entering the market.