The Environmental Protection Agency this past week approved E15 as a registered fuel. That action helps clear the way for the 15% ethanol blend to be used in all cars, light duty trucks and SUVs that are model year 2001 and newer.
EPA had already approved E15 to be used in cars that are year 2001 or newer--that approval came last year. Now EPA has approved the first applications for registration of ethanol production. The approval of E15 as a registered fuel is looked upon by the ethanol industry as the most significant development in the three-year effort to approve the sale of the 15% ethanol/85% gasoline blend.
"The approval of E15 by the EPA is just one hurdle in getting E15 into the marketplace," says Jerry Mohr, a farmer from Eldridge and chairman of the Iowa Corn Growers Association's usage and production committee. "The ultimate goal of getting E15 to the marketplace is to increase the amount of renewable fuels available to consumers, which can help lower fuel costs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil."
Because ethanol is currently less expensive than gasoline, marketers should be able to offer E15 to consumers for a less expensive price than E10 or any other fuel. The job now is largely the industry's to make E15 a commercial reality. More than 20 companies in the U.S. have already submitted E15 registrations to EPA, showing their intent to produce the 15% ethanol blend and make it readily available to the motoring public.
We may soon see E15 ethanol blend being made available at pumps in Iowa
While EPA gave its go ahead for E15 this past week, there are still some steps fuel retailers must take before this "higher than E10 ethanol blend" is available at pumps in Iowa. For example, fuel retailers need to have the proper forms on file with EPA to offer E15 as an option for their consumers.
Registration is a prerequisite to introducing E15 into the marketplace, says Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. But before the fuel can be sold, manufacturers of E15 must take additional measures to help ensure that retail fuel stations and other gasoline retailers and distributors understand and implement labeling rules and other E15 legal requirements. Shaw says we could see E15 being sold at stations in Iowa pretty soon as a number of retailers in Iowa have already begun to address these regulatory requirements and are taking steps to offer the 15% ethanol blend for sale to consumers.
To make it as easy as possible for retailers to make E15 available to consumers, the national Renewable Fuels Association has published a 44-page E15 Retailer Handbook. You can contact the Iowa RFA at www.iowarfa.org to obtain a copy.
Iowa Congressmen and Senators urged to defend Renewable Fuel Standard
The Iowa Corn Growers Association is also urging members of Iowa's Congressional delegation to continue their support and defense of the Renewable Fuel Standard. The RFS was enacted in 2005 to encourage the use of home-grown fuels, such as corn-based ethanol. "The future of our energy independence and our security at home is taking place in ethanol plants across the country," says Mohr. "U.S. ethanol production has reduced oil imports from the Persian Gulf region by 25% since 2000. Ethanol also saves the average American consumer $0.89 a gallon on gas every time they fill up."
In a letter to Iowa's Congressional Delegation, ICGA president Kevin Ross, a farmer from Minden in western Iowa, asked the delegation to stand with Iowa's farmers and support the RFS. He also asked that they oppose any legislation that results in the elimination or reduction in the amount of corn that can be used as a feedstock for ethanol. He also asked the Iowa congressional delegation to oppose legislation that would prohibit the use of fuels containing more than 10% ethanol.
For more information on E15 or to contact your legislator, visit www.iowacorn.org.