Putting E15 (a mix of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline) on sale in the U.S. has been all but official since April, when the Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA) approved the first applications to make E15. Now, "all but official" has become official, with the EPA giving approval for retailers to start selling the biofuel. Just because stations can, though, doesn't mean that drivers will be able to get E15 right away. It will take time for the increased biofuel blend, made from corn ethanol, to make it to market, even though most gasoline sold at pumps across the U.S. today is E10.

Also unsurprisingly, there remain critics of the shift to making E15 available. The EPA – which doesn't require any fuel station to sell anything in particular – admits that E15 should only be used in Model Year 2001 and newer vehicles. In response to the sales approval, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) released a statement calling E15 "dangerous" and that it might "destroy or damage generators, chain saws, utility vehicles, lawn mowers, boats and marine engines, snowmobiles, motorcycles, ATVs, and more." The EPA does not approve using E15 in these sorts of devices. More on the E15 discussion here, here and here.
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EPA Decision to Permit 15 Percent Ethanol (E15) in Gasoline Puts Consumers and Equipment At Risk, Says Outdoor Power Equipment Institute

Alexandria, Va – June 18, 2012 -- The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute issues a warning today that the EPA's ruling providing their approval of the sale of 15 percent ethanol (E15) into the U.S. consumer marketplace for automobiles made since 2001, is dangerous. The government's test results that show E15 is harmful to outdoor power equipment, boats and marine engines and other non-road engine products. The fuel used for automobiles and other engine products would have to be divided, substantially increasing the risk for misfueling, significant engine damage and consumer hazard.

"For the first time in American history, fuel used for some automobiles may no longer safe for any non-road products. It may, in fact, destroy or damage generators, chain saws, utility vehicles, lawn mowers, boats and marine engines, snowmobiles, motorcycles, ATVs, and more," says Kris Kiser, President and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, one of the industry groups who have been sending warnings to the federal government about E15.

In September 2011, members of the Engine Products Group (OPEI, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Global Automakers) filed a formal legal challenge to EPA's E15 partial waiver decision. The EPG asked the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the E15 waiver decision. The decision on this matter is expected to be issued at any time by the court.

Said OPEI's Kiser, "EPA purports to educate tens of millions of Americans using hundreds of millions of engine products, asserting it will educate these users with a 3 inch by 3 inch pump label. It's frighteningly inadequate."

Many times OPEI has pointed out that the EPA's prior experience with the introduction of new fuels shows that labeling alone is insufficient to prevent misfueling. As the EPA led the transition to unleaded fuels, the Agency reported a misfueling rate of nearly 15 percent almost ten years after the introduction of unleaded gasoline, and even with a physical barrier at the pumps.


The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) is an international trade association representing more than 80 engine and equipment manufacturers worldwide in the utility, forestry, landscape, and lawn and garden industry. OPEI is a recognized Standards Development Organization for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and active internationally through the International Standards Organization (ISO) in the development of safety standards. For more information, visit www.OPEI.org.

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