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Trade group: E15 safeguards at the pump ‘woefully inadequate’

Consumer Reports News: November 19, 2010 01:50 PM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recent ruling that gasoline with 15 percent ethanol can be used in a limited selection of cars and trucks was the subject of a hearing this week in Chicago. And the EPA got an earful from the trade association for refiners and petrochemical manufacturers.

Most gasoline sold at the pump, referred to as E10, includes ethanol mixed at a typical ratio of about 10 percent ethanol to 90 percent gasoline. Last month, the EPA granted a partial waiver of a request to raise the ethanol level to 15 percent for all gasoline sold at pumps throughout the nation. 
In its partial waiver, the EPA ruled that cars and light trucks of model years 2007 and later should be fueled with E15 gasoline—but that, pending further testing, older cars and smaller engines should continue using E10. The EPA’s decision included E15 fuel-pump labeling requirements that should clearly indicate to customers what they’re pumping and for which engines E15 is appropriate.
That’s where the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) has issues, according to the trade group’s testimony at the hearing. “It is inevitable that if E15 is made available at retail, many consumers will misfuel—putting the wrong gasoline into the wrong engine,” said Gregory M. Scott, executive vice president and general counsel of NPRA. “This misfueling may occur intentionally, due to price differential or a quality perception, or unintentionally, due to consumer confusion or inattention. Such misfueling cannot be avoided merely with a dispenser label.”
Cars and light trucks older than 2007 are still undergoing testing, but an expanded waiver decision expected in the next few months might apply to vehicles of models years 2001 through 2006. Still, testing on engines for motorcycles, boats, and outdoor power equipment has not demonstrated that blends higher than E10 gasoline can be used safely.
The NFRA asked the EPA to meet with relevant stakeholders, before the close of the public-comment period, to further discuss misfueling and its avoidance.
—Ed Perratore

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