In the not-so distant future, you might find you’ll find an extra choice when you fill up at the gas station, alongside the current choices for Regular or Premium.
That’s because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved a set of guidelines from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) designed to make it easier for gas stations to sell E15 gasoline, a fuel made up from 15 percent bioethanol and 85 percent gasoline.
Although E15 was initially approved for use in cars made after 2007, further testing then allowed the EPA to approve E15 for use in cars made after 2001.
But while the general message has been that E15 won’t hurt your car, owners of older cars or other gasoline-powered equipment like garden tools or boats might find refueling with E15 could cause significant damage.
As a consequence, any gas station wishing to sell E15 fuel must complete a Misfueling Mitigation Plan (MMP) and file it with the EPA. To date, the numbers of gas stations filing MMPs have been fairly low.
In the MMP, the gas station must detail how it plans to minimize misfueling by customers, including how it intends to label the pumps, store the fuel and, where applicable, how its gasoline blending pumps will operate.
Proposed EPA E15 gasoline pump warning label for ethanol content
The guidelines submitted to the EPA by the RFA came in the form of a model MMP which the RFA says will be made available for use by any gas station which needs it.
In addition, it plans to produce a 44-page E15 Retailer Handbook which it says will help gas stations negotiate the red tape of the EPA’s E15 approval process.
Gas stations will still be required to submit their own MMPs to the EPA in order to sell E15 gasoline, but the RFA hopes the book will help more gas stations to become E15-approved.
What does this mean for consumers? At the moment, very little, but expect to see E15 offered as an option at many more gas stations over the coming months.
To find out more about what E15 will mean for you, check out the E15 Education & Outreach website.