The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) waived a limitation on selling gasoline that contains more than 10% ethanol for model year (MY) 2001 through 2006 passenger vehicles, including cars, SUVs, and light pickup trucks. The waiver applies to fuel that contains up to 15% ethanol (E15).
On 13 October 2010, EPA had approved a waiver allowing the use of E15 for MY 2007 and newer cars and light trucks. (Earlier post.) 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.
|Vehicles that can use E15|
Taken together, the two actions allow, but do not require, E15 to be introduced into commerce for use in MY2001 and newer light-duty motor vehicles if conditions for mitigating misfueling and ensuring fuel quality are met. EPA is in the process of completing work on regulations that would provide a more practical means of meeting the conditions.
In terms of fuel quality, ethanol used for E15 must meet ASTM International D4806-10, and the Reid Vapor Pressure for E15 is limited to 9.0 psi during the summertime.
EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson made the new decision after a review of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) testing and other available data on E15’s effect on emissions from MY 2001 through 2006 cars and light trucks.
Data from DOE testing of MY2001-2006 vehicles is available in EPA Docket #EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0211 at www.regulations.gov.
With 2001 and newer cars and pickups included, the E15 waivers now cover 62% of vehicles on the road in the US, according to industry data cited by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). If E15 were used in all vehicles covered by this decision, the theoretical blend wall for ethanol use would be approximately 17.5 billion gallons, the RFA calculates.
The EPA 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, 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.
EPA granted the waiver after considering the E15 petition submitted by Growth Energy and 54 ethanol manufacturers in March 2009. In April 2009, 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.