E15 gasoline clears final hurdle
Retailers in some states are expected to begin offering E15 gasoline — 15 percent ethanol — as early as May 1.
That’s because after three years, the American ethanol industry has satisfied all federal requirements for E15 commercial sales as set by the partial E15 waiver granted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The last hurdle was overcome when 99 ethanol producers agreed to fund a nationwide fuel survey, Ethanol Producer Magazine reported this week.
The survey is an annual requirement and will be conducted by the Reformulated Gasoline Survey Association. It will involve collecting more than 7,500 samples of all gasolines available nationwide and will begin on May 1, 2012.
UsAgNet noted that efforts to bring E15 to pumps across the nation will now focus on states where regulatory issues must be addressed. Plus there are additional challenges, such as pending litigation and anti-ethanol posturing by some in Congress, “make predicting the exact timeframe for the growth of E15 sales volumes unwise,” UsAgNet said.
Still, some states — such as Iowa, Illinois and Kansas — are prepared for E15 and sales of E15 could commence as soon as all parties are registered with EPA and are implementing the Misfueling Mitigation Plan approved by EPA.
Scott Zaremba was one of the first retailers in the nation to install a blender pump and he’ll probably soon become one of the first to offer E15 to customers driving 2001 and newer vehicles. The owner of Zarco 66 Inc. operates eight stations in four counties outside the Kansas City metro area, all of which currently have blender pumps. As soon as the Misfueling Mitigation Plan process is complete and all of the required components are in place, Zaremba will simply switch the side E15 is offered on his blender pumps to make E15 available to the expanded market of vehicle drivers. He expects that could happen as early as May 1.
…Some retailer lobby groups have cautioned that retailers may not choose to offer E15 because of concerns that they could be held liable for potential vehicle malfunctions as a result of consumer misfueling. This is not an issue for Zaremba, who said he is confident the mitigation plan for E15 will provide him with necessary liability protection. “The Misfueling Mitigation Plan that’s in place should solve any of those problems that might happen for a retailer, so we feel very comfortable with being able to dispense to the motoring public a local, American-made fuel,” he said.
Claims that E15 will completely displace E10 are also unfounded, he said, pointing out that retailers need to also provide products to a large market of engines that aren’t approved for use with E15. “I think it’s going to be an evolution over time as we move to E15,” he said. “We still have to have products available for year 2000 and older vehicles. We’re at the starting point for where we need to be able to incorporate more American-made fuels instead of importing crude oil. This is our next progressive step.”
As for consumer demand? Zaremba said he’ll find out when he makes it available. “As soon as we educate the consumer on what it is, we believe there will be a good demand for it,” he said. “In renewable fuels, it’s all about educating the consumer.”