As predicted and expected, the Environmental Protection Agency today approved the first applications to make E15, a blend of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol in it. This means that E15 is now a "significant step" closer to production and sale in America.
For decades, gasoline in the U.S. has had up to 10 percent ethanol in it, but the extra five points were enough to generate resistance. The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute and the Science Committee in the House of Representatives both took steps to prevent E15 from entering the national supply. Even the EPA admits not every vehicle should use the new blend, saying it is approved only for Model Year 2001 vehicles and newer.
Many automakers have been hesitant about E15, fearing fuel system and engine damage, so a number of them joined a lawsuit against it in 2010 through the Auto Alliance. Some have even gone so far as to say that any older vehicles that use E15 will have their warranties voided. The EPA's rules say that any pump dispensing E15 must be clearly labeled. The EPA is not requiring any station to sell E15 in any way, but the Obama Administration does want to encourage its use, and thus wants to help get 10,000 blender pumps installed in the U.S. over the next 5 years.
In late 2011, the U.S. Congress ended a 30-year tax subsidy on corn-based ethanol while also stopping tariffs on ethanol imported from Brazil. Since 1980, the ethanol industry has received an estimated $45 billion in subsidies. Check out the official EPA press release for further details after the jump.