Action by the EPA last week removed one of the last hurdles to making a 15% blend of ethanol in gasoline a reality. After years of Washington red tape, the blend wall is crumbling as fuel makers can now start blending higher levels of ethanol into their gasoline. Bob Dinneen, with the Renewable Fuels Association, says it is not up to the ethanol industry to make E-15 acceptable and accessible to consumers, “The job now is largely the industry’s to make E-15 a commercial reality.” He said RFA and other ethanol groups are working hard to make sure that happens.
RFA has released an E-15 user guide to help retailers bring higher blends into their operations. Dinneen says the skyrocketing price of gas will make E-15 very attractive in the marketplace, “We are careening toward an all time high in gasoline prices; and, with ethanol is $1 cheaper, any ethanol marketer who wants to blend 15% ethanol will be able to offer that fuel for less than about any other fuel.” In addition, there are grant programs that will help retailers install blender pumps and make other infrastructure improvements to accept the new fuel.
Bob White, with RFA, says that, for example, the Indiana Corn Growers are working with retailers to increase the retail presence of E-15 in the Hoosier State, “We look to and work with groups like Indiana Corn because of their excellent reputation and connections within the state.” ICMC has a grant program that provides funding to help retailers bring blender pumps to the market. RFA officials told HAT that they have had several meetings with Indiana Corn leaders to coordinate efforts to promote E-15 and other blends of ethanol in the state. The next steps will include ensuring companies seeking to offer E-15 are registered with EPA, have submitted the Misfueling Mitigation plan, and are addressing lingering fuel regulatory requirements at the state level. Some states, including Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas, are prepared to welcome E-15, and drivers in those states will be among the first to see E-15 at the pump.
There remain many changes ahead for E-15, but ethanol industry sources are confident higher blends of ethanol are slowly beginning to make their way into the market place and into the fuel tanks of US cars. “Americans will soon have a safe and effective new fuel option at the pump that is domestically-made and significantly cheaper than gasoline,” Dinneen said. “E-15 ethanol blends have withstood rigorous testing and mountains of challenges.”
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