EPA decision clears major hurdle for moving higher Ethanol blend to market


On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency’s approved  health effects testing on E15 fuel submitted by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy.

Health effects testing is a required step in the approval of any new fuel or fuel additive.  With EPA’s acceptance of the results of the testing submitted by the ethanol groups, suppliers of ethanol and E15 are now able to register with EPA to offer the fuel.  This is not the green light for E15 sales yet, but the health effects testing is a significant milestone to have passed.

EPA concluded, “Our evaluation therefore concludes that RFA/Growth Energy has submitted data and analysis that would satisfy the Tier 1 and Tier 2 testing requirements for registration.”

“For three years Growth Energy has led the effort to clear the way for consumers to have access to affordable, renewable and cleaner-burning fuel. Now it is up to the retailers and individual fuel companies to register for approval to sell E15. With ethanol selling an average of 76 cents a gallon cheaper than gasoline and $4 a gallon gasoline on the horizon, we’d encourage all Americans to ask their local filling station how soon they will see more-affordable E15,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy.

“EPA’s action today puts E15 on the precipice of commercialization and means that consumers may be able to choose a more affordable E15 option in time for the expensive summer driving season,” RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen.  “Increasing America’s use of homegrown ethanol will create jobs, reduce harmful tailpipe emissions, and make this nation more energy secure.  This is huge step toward meaningful market expansion for domestically-produced ethanol.”

ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings says the decision makes E15 another step closer to the consumer.

“Americans are paying record high gas prices for this time of year and E15 could save drivers 12 to 15 cents per gallon versus straight gasoline. The sooner E15 emerges on the market, the sooner consumers will be able to choose between expensive and pollution-causing gasoline, and E15, a homegrown source of clean-octane at a remarkably affordable price,” Jennings said.

The acceptance of the health effects testing clears the way for the final steps in registering E15 as a fuel and offering it in the marketplace.  One step is to have ethanol and fuel companies register with EPA.  The RFA expects that to begin happening as early as this afternoon.

The other step is the formulation of a misfueling mitigation plan.  As the E15 waiver extends only to MY2001 and newer vehicles, and excludes a number of non-road, marine, and vehicle engines, helping ensure consumers are legally and appropriately using E15 is critical.  The RFA has submitted a misfueling mitigation plan to EPA that would serve as a model plan that fuel retailers must follow to be in compliance with EPA regulations.  Once this plan is completed, and companies register with EPA, E15 can be sold to the EPA-approved vehicles in states and at stations that are prepared to do so.

Sources: Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, American Coalition for Ethanol