The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the use of E15 (a blend of up to 15 percent ethanol with gasoline) in response to a formal petition. While the E15 petition goes through further processing for application, existing regulation caps the permissible amount of ethanol blended with gasoline at 10 percent, or E10, for non-Flex Fuel vehicles.
Through regulation, the Clean Air Act specifically defines what can be considered transportation fuel. In order to change the fuel mix from E10 to E15, the formal petition with accompanying public signatures was filed in March 2009. That formal petition, dubbed the Green Jobs Waiver, can be read in its entirety here, and the formal application, appended with supporting documentation, can be read here. The petition noted that Congress had passed legislation designed to expand the country’s domestic, renewable fuels industry, but by capping ethanol’s volume in the fuel supply at 10 percent, the regulation prevented the U.S. ethanol industry from meeting the Congressional targets as identified in the Renewable Fuels Standard.
In a two-step process, EPA granted waivers that together permit E15 for use in automobiles and light trucks Model Year 2001 and newer. This amounts to approximately 151 million cars, or 67 percent of the country’s vehicles, that together consume 75 percent of the country’s fuel.
In the first partial waiver, granted on Oct. 13, 2010, EPA had permitted E15 in vehicles Model Year 2007 and newer, upon completion of a rigorous, comprehensive battery of tests conducted on the engines, emissions system and drivability of the vehicles. The testing was conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy. The text of that partial waiver can be read here.
On January 21, 2011, the EPA granted the second part of the waiver, permitting E15 in those vehicles from Model Year 2001 and newer. The text of that waiver can be read here.
The EPA has approved a label for use on fuel pumps to mitigate misfueling by providing motorists the information they need on E15, and by identifying which pumps carry E15. You can view that label here. E15 is anticipated to be available to consumers as early as the end of 2011.