The EPA announced today that it is granting a waiver to allow for the use of up to 15% ethanol in gasoline for cars and light trucks model year 2007 and newer . . . this after several months of rigorous testing by the Department of Energy (DOE). The testing found that engines in these model vehicles can burn and still meet federal emissions requirements under the Clean Air Act, and that the E15/gasoline blend does not harm these engines. Growth Energy and 54 ethanol producers had submitted the waiver concerning raising the ethanol blend level to 15% in March 2009.
“There are 65 million model 2007 and newer cars and light duty trucks on the roads today, representing more than one-third of the country’s total gas consumption. This is a step toward increasing the use of renewable fuels,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Gina McCarthy today in a press conference announcing the decision. She said that renewable fuels is a part of an energy strategy that is important for the U.S.
EPA is expected to announce a decision on the use of E15 in model year 2001 to 2006 vehicles sometime in November or December after it receives the results of DOE testing on these models. There will be no waiver for E15 for model year 2000 and older cars and light trucks (or for motorcycles, heavy-duty vehicles or non-road engines). EPA says this is because there is not enough testing data to support such a waiver. McCarthy said that EPA has expressed concern about E15 for small engines.
To help consumers identify the correct fuel for their vehicles, EPA is proposing an E15 pump labeling requirement, including a requirement that the fuel industry specify the ethanol content of gasoline sold to retailers. In addition to labeling that will clearly distinguish fuels for consumers, McCarthy said that a rigorous education program about E15 needs to be rolled out and that the EPA is “talking to industry about that.”
The EPA reported that today’s announcement “represents the first of a number of actions that are needed from federal, state and industry towards commercialization of E15 gasoline blends.”