US approves E-15 for older model passenger cars

21 January 2011 17:02  [Source: ICIS news]

US approves E15 blend for older vehiclesWASHINGTON (ICIS)--The US on Friday approved the sale of 15% ethanol gasoline blends (E-15) for use in passenger vehicles and light trucks manufactured in 2001-2006, saying the authorisation was supported by federal testing and necessary to advance commercialisation of E-15 fuels.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that the E-15 authorisation for older model cars was based on test results from the Department of Energy (DOE) that showed “that E-15 does not harm emissions control equipment in newer cars and light trucks”.

The agency’s anticipated approval for E-15 use in 2001-2006 model year light vehicles was opposed by the US refining industry and many environmentalists.

The E-15 approval for the older model years followed the agency’s authorisation in October last year for use of the higher ethanol blend in passenger cars and light trucks manufactured in 2007 and later. That ruling was the subject of multiple lawsuits that were pending in US federal courts.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said that her approval for E-15 use in 2001-2006 model year vehicles was valid because it was supported by scientific testing and advances the Obama administration’s policy to allow more home-grown fuels in the nation’s vehicle fleet.

However, Jackson also noted that EPA was working to develop labelling requirements for retail gasoline service pumps to ensure that E-15 blends are not put into vehicles, engines and other equipment “not currently approved for the higher ethanol blend”.

US refiners had earlier warned that fuelling mistakes would inevitably be made by consumers at the retail level, regardless of what labelling requirements the agency might require, resulting in damage to vehicles and gasoline-powered equipment that are not capable of using E-15 blends.

Those vehicles include motorcycles, heavy-duty trucks, off-road construction vehicles, marine engines and gasoline-powered equipment such as chain saws.

The EPA approval of E-15 fuels for later model passenger vehicles and light trucks was in response to a petition filed by US ethanol manufacturers who argued that their industry could not survive without the added demand that an E-15 federal authorisation would generate.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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