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.
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EPA to Allow 15 Percent Renewable Fuel in Gasoline

Agency approves first applications for registration of ethanol to make E15

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the first applications for registration of ethanol for use in making gasoline that contains up to 15 percent ethanol – known as E15. Ethanol is a renewable fuel that can be mixed with gasoline. For over 30 years ethanol has been blended into gasoline, but the law limited it to 10 percent by volume for use in gasoline-fueled vehicles. Registration of ethanol to make E15 is a significant step toward its production, sale, and use in model year 2001 and newer gasoline-fueled cars and light trucks.

To enable widespread use of E15, the Obama Administration has set a goal to help fueling station owners install 10,000 blender pumps over the next 5 years. In addition, both through the Recovery Act and the 2008 Farm Bill, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and U.S. Department of Agriculture have provided grants, loans and loan guarantees to spur American ingenuity on the next generation of biofuels.

Today's action follows an extensive technical review required by law. Registration is a prerequisite to introducing E15 into the marketplace. Before it can be sold, manufactures must first take additional measures to help ensure retail stations and other gasoline distributors understand and implement labeling rules and other E15-related requirements. EPA is not requiring the use or sale of E15.

Ethanol is considered a renewable fuel because it is generally produced from plant products or wastes and not from fossil fuels. Ethanol is blended with gasoline for use in most areas across the country. After extensive vehicle testing by DOE and other organizations, EPA issued two partial waivers raising the allowable ethanol volume to 15 percent for use in model year 2001 and newer cars and light trucks.

E15 is not permitted for use in motor vehicles built prior to 2001 model year and in off-road vehicles and equipment such as boats and lawn and garden equipment. Gas pumps dispensing E15 will be clearly labeled so consumers can make the right choice.

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