EPA approves E15 for model year 2001-'06 cars and light truck

By Holly Jessen | January 21, 2011

On Jan. 21 the U.S. EPA approved an E15 waiver for model year 2001 through 2006 passenger vehicles, including cars, SUVs, and light pickup trucks. “Recently completed testing and data analysis show that E15 does not harm emissions control equipment in newer cars and light trucks," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said. "Wherever sound science and the law support steps to allow more home-grown fuels in America’s vehicles, this administration takes those steps."

It’s been nearly two years since Growth Energy and 54 ethanol producers petitioned the EPA to allow the introduction of E15 into the marketplace. E15 approval for model year 2007 and newer cars was given in October. “Taken together, the two actions allow, but do not require, E15 to be introduced into commerce for use in [model year] 2001 and newer light-duty motor vehicles if conditions for mitigating misfueling and ensuring fuel quality are met,” the agency said. “EPA is in the process of completing work on regulations that would provide a more practical means of meeting the conditions.”

EPA added that it won’t be granting a waiver this year for E15 in any motorcycles, heavy-duty vehicles or non-road engines because current testing data doesn’t support it. And, although it’s an important first step, the E15 waiver does not make the fuel legal for sale and use immediately, according to the Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy. Until a number of federal, state and industry-required steps are completed E15 is only legal for use in flex-fuel vehicles. One of those steps is for fuel and fuel manufacturers to register E15 with EPA.

The EPA is working to develop an E15 label for gas pumps, which should be unveiled in the next few months. A comment period closed Jan. 3 on the proposed label, which is orange and has the word “CAUTION!” written across the top. The cost of the proposed labeling requirement is estimated at $1.04 million, according to the EPA. With a one-time cost for product transfer document requirements and annual survey costs the total estimated cost of complying with the rule adds up to an estimated $3.65 million yearly