WATERLOO, Iowa - The debate over whether to increase ethanol content has drawn a line in the sand between those who sell and produce the fuel, reports The Courier.
Here is what has been communicating:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a partial waiver late last year that allows for the use of E15 in vehicles manufacture during or after model year 2007. More recently, EPA expanded authorized use of E15 to include model year 2001 and later vehicles.
If a customer in a 2000 model car fuels with E15, that retailer may have some serious issues. The driver may, in fact, sue the retailer for potential damage to his vehicle, or the EPA or an environmental group may sue the retailer for allowing the misfueling to occur in violation of the Clean Air Act ï¿½" fines can go up to $37,500 per day.
And then there is the issue of compatibility. Prior to March 2010, there were no dispensers in the country certified by Underwriters Laboratories as compatible with gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol. What this means is that any retailer selling a mix of ethanol higher than E10 (including E85) through non-certified equipment is violating regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, tank insurance policies, bank loan covenants and exposing themselves to claims of gross negligence. It does not matter if your local fire marshal approved the fuel for your station; you are still violating the law.
In Iowa, Dawn Carlson, president of the Petroleum marketers and Convenience Stores of Iowa, said in a prepared statement: "We do not anticipate an immediate switch to E15 in Iowa, but we are working through those issues and want to assure Iowans of a safe, consistent supply of fuel."
La Crosse, Wis.-based Kwik Trip Inc., only offers E10, although E85 is available at select locations. Company spokesman John McHugh said Kwik Trip isn't sure when E15 will be on its fuel menu. "There are many complex factors that need to be thoroughly examined before we ever introduce a new fuel product," he told The Courier.
Meanwhile, Jim Lind, owner of Jim Lind Service, told the newspaper that he isnï¿½ï¿½t concerned and that in a few weeks heï¿½ï¿½ll hopefully have the only E15 dispenser available in the Cedar Valley area. Heï¿½ï¿½ll also offer E25, E40 and E85.
Lind says he decided to invest in renewable fuels before EPAï¿½ï¿½s decision, which has only increased his confidence. He feels the ethanolï¿½ï¿½s lower price tag will attract more customers.
"We Americans need options," Lind told the newspaper, adding, "I took the gamble to modernize for the future."
NACS is working with members of Congress to re-introduce legislation this Congress (H.R. 5778) that will enable retailers to have their existing equipment evaluated and reï¿½certified as compatible with new fuels, thus potentially removing the need to replace their equipment. The legislation will also provide some protection in the event a consumer ignores the labels on their dispensers and fuels a non-approved engine with a new fuel.
NACS will also support legislation that protects all parties in the supply chain from broad-based product liability. Retailers should not be held liable for selling a fuel approved in accordance with todayï¿½ï¿½s laws if, in the future, a court decides that fuel should not have been approved and is defective.