WASHINGTON, D.C. - On October 13, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency partially granted Growth Energy's waiver request application submitted under section 211(f)(4) of the Clean Air Act.
This partial waiver will allow fuel and fuel additive manufacturers to introduce into commerce gasoline that contains greater than 10 volume percent (vol%) ethanol and up to 15 vol% ethanol (E15) for use in certain motor vehicles once certain other conditions are fulfilled. It is important to remember that there are a number of additional steps that must be completed - some of which are not under EPA control - to allow the sale and distribution of E15. These include but are not limited to submission of a complete E15 fuels registration application by industry and changes to some states' laws to allow for the use of E15.
Status Update: Data from DOE testing of MY2001-2006 vehicles is available in EPA Docket #EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0211 at www.regulations.gov.
• What is E15?
What is E15?
Ethanol is an alcohol that can be mixed with gasoline to result in a cleaner-burning fuel. The most common blend of gasoline and ethanol is E10, or 10 percent of ethanol to 90 percent of gasoline. E15 is gasoline containing 15 vol% ethanol.
The primary source of ethanol is corn, but other grains or biomass sources may be used such as sorghum, corn cobs, cornstalks, and switchgrass.
What is the E15 waiver?
In order to protect the emission control systems of vehicles and engines, the Clean Air Act prohibits the introduction of fuels or fuel additives that are not substantially similar to the fuels or additives used in certifying vehicles and engines to emission standards. However, the Act authorizes EPA to grant a waiver of this prohibition for a fuel or additive if it can be demonstrated that vehicles and engines using the otherwise prohibited fuel or additive will continue to meet emission standards over their useful lives.
In March 2009, Growth Energy (a coalition of U.S. ethanol supporters) and 54 ethanol manufacturers applied for a waiver to increase the allowable amount of ethanol in gasoline from E10 to E15.
The waiver application included data on the impact of E15 on vehicle emissions, fuel system materials, and driveability. Additional data were developed by the US Department of Energy, which began testing for potential impacts of various ethanol-gasoline blends on motor vehicle emissions. This testing followed enactment of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which calls for significantly increasing the amount of biofuels, such as ethanol, to be used in transportation fuel. EPA received over 78,000 public comments about Growth Energy's application.
EPA is partially granting Growth Energy's waiver request application. This partial grant waives the prohibition on fuel and fuel additive manufacturers on the introduction into commerce of gasoline containing greater than 10 vol% ethanol and no more than 15 vol% ethanol for use in certain motor vehicles. More specifically, this action has two components. First, we are approving the waiver for and allowing the introduction into commerce of E15 for use in Model Year (MY) 2007 and newer light-duty motor vehicles, which includes passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles.
The second component of the action is that we are not approving the waiver for E15 use in MY2000 and older light-duty motor vehicles, heavy-duty gasoline engines and vehicles (e.g., delivery trucks), highway and off-highway motorcycles, and nonroad engines, vehicles, and equipment (e.g., boats, snowmobiles, and lawnmowers) because there is insufficient test data to support it for these vehicles and engines.
The Agency is deferring a decision on the applicability of a waiver with respect to MY2001-2006 light-duty motor vehicles. DOE is conducting testing with respect to those vehicles. Data from that testing is available in EPA Docket #EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0211 at www.regulations.gov. EPA expects to make a determination for these vehicles after all relevant DOE test data for those model years becomes available.
What Vehicles May Use E15?
• MY2007 and newer cars.
• MY2007 and newer light-duty trucks.
• MY2007 and newer medium-duty passenger vehicles.
What Vehicles and Engines May Not Use E15?
• All motorcycles.
• All vehicles with heavy-duty engines, such as school buses, transit buses, and delivery trucks.
• All off-road vehicles, such as boats and snowmobiles.
• All engines in off-road equipment, such as lawnmowers and chain saws.
• All MY2000 and older cars, light-duty trucks, and SUVs.
• All 2001-2006 cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles (pending a waiver decision with respect to those vehicles).
The Agency is Deferring Action on the Waiver Request for the Following Vehicles and Pending Completion of DOE Testing
• All MY2001-2006 cars.
• All MY2001-2006 light-duty trucks.
• All MY2001-2006 medium-duty passenger vehicles.
What Conditions are Part of the Waiver Decision?
EPA placed two types of conditions on the waiver for E15: those for mitigating the potential for misfueling of E15 into vehicles and engines for which E15 is not approved, and those addressing fuel and ethanol quality. All conditions must be met prior to the introduction of E15 into commerce.
Fuel quality conditions:
• Ethanol used for E15 must meet ASTM International D4806-10.
• The Reid Vapor Pressure for E15 is limited to 9.0 psi during the summertime.
Misfueling mitigation conditions:
• Labels must be placed on E15 retail dispensers indicating that E15 use is only for MY2007 and newer motor vehicles.
• Product Transfer Documents (PTDs) must accompany all transfers of fuels for E15 use.
• Parties involved in the manufacture of E15 must participate in a survey of compliance at fuel retail dispensing facilities to ensure proper labeling of dispensers.
• Parties must submit a plan addressing conditions to EPA for approval.
What is EPA doing to Address Potential Misfueling?
EPA is proposing a regulatory program to help mitigate potential misfueling of certain engines, vehicles and equipment with gasoline containing greater than E10 and no more than E15. This proposed rule would require all E15 fuel dispensers to have a label if a retail station chooses to sell E15 and seeks comment on separate labeling requirements for fuel blender pumps and fuel pumps that dispense E85. Similar to the prohibition in section 211(f)(1), the proposed rule would prohibit the use of gasoline containing greater than 10 vol% ethanol in vehicles and engines not covered by the partial waiver for E15. In addition, the proposed rule would require PTDs specifying ethanol content and Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) to accompany the transfer of gasoline blended with ethanol and a national survey of retail stations to ensure compliance with these requirements. The proposed rule would also modify the Reformulated Gasoline (RFG) program by updating the Complex Model to allow fuel manufacturers to certify batches of gasoline containing up to E15. The proposed measures would help promote the successful introduction of E15 into commerce.
The 60 day comment period for the proposed rule is currently open and ends on January 3, 2011. In addition, EPA held a public hearing in Chicago, IL.
The Waiver Notices
EPA may consider a waiver for gasoline-ethanol blends greater than 10 vol% to be used in non flexible-fueled vehicles under its authority in Clean Air Act section 211(f)(4).
EPA reviewed the March 2009 application from Growth Energy, available test data and public comments on the waiver request. On October 13, 2010, EPA determined that, subject to compliance with all of the conditions listed in the waiver decision, a gasoline produced with greater than E10 and no more than E15 will not cause or contribute to a failure of certain motor vehicles to achieve compliance with the emission standards to which they have been certified over their useful lives. Therefore, EPA partially and conditionally granted the waiver request application submitted by Growth Energy for its gasoline-ethanol blend with up to 15 vol% ethanol.
• Status Update (July 2010)
• Status Update (PDF) (2 pp, 493K, November 30, 2009)
Proposed Rule: Regulation to Mitigate the Misfueling of Vehicles and Engines with Gasoline Containing Greater than Ten Volume Percent Ethanol and Modifications to the Reformulated and Conventional Gasoline Programs
• Fact Sheet: EPA Announces E15 Partial Waiver Decision and Pump Labeling Proposal | PDF Version (5 pp, 530K, October 13, 2010)
For further information or assistance regarding please contact EPA's Assessment and Standards Division voicemail at: (734) 214-4636 or email: ASDinfo@epa.gov.