EPA issues final E15 labeling rule

By Erin Voegele | June 28, 2011

The U.S. EPA has finalized pump labeling requirements for E15. According to the agency, these requirements will help to ensure that the fuel is properly labeled and used once it enters the market. While the action obviously impacts the corn ethanol industry, it is also important to remember that the EPA’s actions in regard to E15 and higher blends of ethanol will impact the cellulosic biofuels industry as well. In fact, opening up the fuel market to ethanol blends beyond E10 is considered an integral component in creating markets for future cellulosic ethanol production.

According to information released by the agency, the new orange and black E15 label must appear on fuel pumps that dispense E15. “This label will help inform consumers about which vehicles can use E15,” said the EPA in a statement. “This label will also warn consumers against using E15 in vehicles older than model year 2001, motorcycles, watercraft, and gasoline-powered equipment such as lawnmowers and chainsaws.”The E15 pump labeling requirements have been developed in coordination with the Federal Trade Commission, and adopt elements of the FTC’s existing labels for alternative fuels in order to promote consistent labeling.

The EPA’s final rule also addresses other aspects of E15 use. It includes a prohibition against misfueling as well as a requirement to track E15 and other fuels as they move through the fuel supply chain. The EPA said the tracking requirement will help ensure E15 is properly blended and labeled. In addition, the rule also establishes a quarterly survey, which aims to make certain that gas pumps dispensing E15 are properly labeled. Finally, the rule modifies the Reformulated Gasoline (RFG) Program to allow fuel producers to certify batches of E15 as complying with RFG standards.

The EPA is also issuing guidance on the compatibility of underground storage tanks with gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol and diesel containing more than 20 percent biodiesel. The guidance is intended to assist owners and operators of underground storage tanks in meeting existing federal compatibility requirements.

Growth Energy has spoken out in support of the EPA’s rulemaking. “We appreciate EPA finally releasing this rule in response to Growth Energy’s E15 petition,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “This is another step in the process to get E15 into the marketplace later this year, which will create U.S. jobs, improve the environment and strengthen national security by displacing foreign oil.”

However, not all organizations support the agency’s action. The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association is speaking out against the E15 labeling rule, stating the label requirements are inadequate. “EPA’s decision to rely solely on retail gasoline pump labels to protect consumers from misfueling with gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol is woefully inadequate and compounds the fundamental mistakes EPA made in approving the sales of E15 in 2010,” said NPRA Presidetn Charles Drevna. “The rule is a terrible miscalculation and terrible news for millions of Americans who will inevitably face costly repair bills after misfueling trucks, motorcycles, boats, snowmobiles and outdoor power equipment with gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol.”