The Environmental Protection Agency took additional steps in January to extend the partial waiver decision for E15 to include model years (MY) 2001-2006.
In October, EPA passed a law allowing fuel and fuel additive manufacturers to begin selling gasoline that contains greater than the 10 volume percent ethanol (E10) previously allowed up to a new limit of 15 volume percent ethanol (E15) for use in vehicles manufactured after 2007. Taken together, the two waiver decisions allow E15 to be sold for use in MY 2001 and newer light-duty motor vehicles, including passenger cars, light-duty trucks and sport utility vehicles.
EPA’s waiver decisions allow but do not require the use of E15 for MY 2001 and newer light-duty motor vehicles. The decisions were based largely on the U.S. Department of Energy’s catalyst study, which evaluated the long-term effects of ethanol blends on the durability of the catalytic converter and exhaust emissions control system of MY 2001 and newer light-duty motor vehicles. EPA concluded that the DOE catalyst study and other empirical evidence demonstrate that E15 will have neither immediate nor durability-related impacts on the overall EPA exhaust emissions standards. The results of the DOE catalyst study confirm EPA’s own engineering assessment that MY 2001 and newer light-duty motor vehicles are equipped with hardware and calibration that allow the vehicles to maintain EPA’s exhaust emission control standards when fueled by E15.
Like the partial waiver the EPA released in October, the MY 2001-2006 waiver is allowed under the conditions that mitigation efforts for potential fueling mistakes in nonapproved vehicles are in place and fuel quality standards are met. Mitigation efforts to prevent fueling mistakes will include manufacturer registration with the EPA and EPA’s approval of manufacturer plans for addressing the conditions of the waiver. In addition, proper labeling of retail dispensers indicating that E15 is only for use in MY 2001 and newer motor vehicles is required, and product transfer documents will have to accompany all transfers of fuel for E15 use. Finally, compliance surveys will be conducted by the EPA at fuel retail dispensing facilities to ensure adequate enforcement of labeling requirements.
EPA is still in the process of establishing a regulatory program to mitigate potential fueling mistakes of nonapproved vehicles with E15. EPA proposed a rule and label design which was open for public comment through Jan. 3, 2011. A final decision on the rule and label should follow in the coming months.