EPA Grants E15 Fuel Waiver for MY 2001-2006 Cars, Light Trucks

By Scott Doggett January 21, 2011

Corn-Ethanol.jpgThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today waived a limitation on selling gasoline that contains more than 10% ethanol for model year 2001 through 2006 passenger vehicles, including cars, SUVs and light pickup trucks.

The waiver applies to gasoline that contains up to 15% ethanol - known as E15. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said in a statement that she made the decision after a review of the Department of Energy's testing and other available data on E15's effect on emissions from MY 2001 through 2006 cars and light trucks.

Ethanol is an alcohol that can be mixed with gasoline to result in a cleaner-burning fuel. E15 is a blend of 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline. The primary source of ethanol is corn, but other grains or biomass sources may be used such as corn cobs, cornstalks, and switchgrass.

"Recently completed testing and data analysis show that E15 does not harm emissions-control equipment in newer cars and light trucks," Jackson said.

That said, a lot of gas stations don't carry E15 and there are labeling and other concerns that have to be addressed because of fears that the fuel can get into engines and other machinery that are not capable of using higher concentrations of ethanol.

Today's waiver does not mean that all gasoline sold in the U.S. will suddenly be diluted with 15% ethanol. Rather, it means that gasoline blenders will now have the option to offer E15 to more vehicles. However, because E15 is not approved for use in MY 2000 and older cars and light trucks, they will still have to offer gasoline with 10% or lower concentrations of ethanol.

On October 13 of last year, the EPA approved a waiver allowing the use of E15 for MY 2007 and newer cars and light trucks. At that time, EPA denied a request to allow the use of E15 for MY 2000 and older vehicles and postponed its decision on the use of E15 in MY 2001 to 2006 cars and light trucks until DOE completed additional testing for those model years.

The agency also announced that no waiver is being granted this year for E15 use in any motorcycles, heavy-duty vehicles, or non-road engines because current testing data does not support such a waiver.

These waivers represent one of a number of actions that are needed from federal, state and industry to commercialize E15 gasoline blends. Also, the EPA is developing requirements to ensure that E15 is properly labeled at the gas pump.

The label will be designed to prevent refueling into vehicles, engines, and equipment not currently approved for the higher ethanol blend.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandated an increase in the overall volume of renewable fuels into the marketplace, reaching a 36 billion gallon total in 2022. Ethanol is considered a renewable fuel because it is produced from plant products or wastes and not from fossil fuels. Ethanol is blended with gasoline for use in most areas across the country.

The EPA granted the waiver after considering the E15 petition submitted by Growth Energy and 54 ethanol manufacturers in March 2009. In April 2009, the EPA sought public comment on the petition and received about 78,000 comments.

The petition was submitted under a Clean Air Act provision that allows EPA to waive the act's prohibition against the sale of a significantly altered fuel if the petitioner shows that the new fuel will not cause or contribute to the failure of engine and other emission-related parts that ensure compliance with emission standards.

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greenpony says: 10:52 AM, 01.21.11

"The label will be designed to prevent refueling into vehicles, engines, and equipment not currently approved for the higher ethanol blend."

Ok. Let's get one thing straight. A label isn't going to prevent a damn thing. You can prevent diesel from being put in a gasoline-powered car by making a nozzle that won't fit into the filler neck. You can prevent E85 from being put in non-flex-fuel vehicles by not offering it. But even the most conspicuous label in the world isn't going to prevent someone from overlooking it, or being illiterate, or choosing to simply ignore it. Implement a true poka-yoke.

brn says: 8:30 AM, 01.22.11

greenpony, You're right that having a label doesn't mean people will follow it, but what difference does it make? If I put E10/E15 in my 1998 (which I've been doing for many years), it's not going to blow up the motor.


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