WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued fuel pump labeling requirements
for gasoline blends containing E15.
The new orange and black labels must appear on pumps that dispense E15. This label will help inform consumers about which vehicles can use E15. This label will also warn consumers against using E15 in vehicles older than model year 2001, motorcycles, watercraft, and gasoline-powered equipment such as lawnmowers and chainsaws.
NACS has submitted comments on the original proposal encouraging the use of colors and shapes that would distinguish E15 nozzles from other gasoline blends. The use of the orange-black combination is an effective selection and the placement requirements for the label should be sufficient to alert the consumer that the fuel they are selecting is different from other blends.
The rule further denies a petition submitted by some groups that EPA require all retailers to sell a gasoline blended with no more than 10% ethanol. NACS commented that such a requirement is unnecessary and would only impose a greater burden on retailers.
EPA also announced that it is working with stakeholders on a public education campaign to help consumers better understand the role of E15 in the market and the appropriate and prohibited uses of the fuel. In addition, EPA announced that it has changed the complex emissions model that regulates reformulated gasoline to allow manufacturers to incorporate E15 if they choose to do so. Prior to finalization of this rule, E15 in RFG was prohibited.
"NACS believes that the only feasible method to mitigate misfueling with E15 at retail is a labeling regime," said John Eichberger, NACS vice president of government relations. "Because physical retrofit of vehicles is not possible with a backwards-looking program, no other strategy was realistic. The labels, if appropriately applied, will provide consumers with adequate notice and warning regarding the approved and prohibited uses of this fuel. Any retailer considering the sale of E15 must properly label their dispensers and NACS believes this is a responsible requirement issued by EPA."
Eichberger noted that NACS continues to advocate for legislation that will protect retailers from certain liabilities if the self-service consumer ignores the labels and introduces E15 into a non-approved engine. Such liabilities include fines and litigation under the Clean Air Act and litigation stemming from the voiding of an engine warranty.
Over the past year, EPA issued two partial waivers under the Clean Air Act that in sum allow E15 to be sold for use in model year 2001 and newer cars and light trucks. EPA based its waiver decisions on testing and analysis showing that these vehicles could continue to meet emission standards if operated on E15. However, EPA does not mandate the use of E15, nor has the agency registered the fuel, which is required before E15 can be legally sold.
The E15 pump label requirements adopt elements of the Federal Trade Commission€™s existing labels for alternative fuels to promote consistent labeling. The rule also includes a prohibition against misfueling with E15; a requirement to track E15 and other fuels as they move through the fuel supply chain; and a quarterly survey to help ensure that E15 dispensers are properly labeled. In addition, it modifies the Reformulated Gasoline Program to allow fuel producers to certify batches of E15 as complying with RFG standards.