The Battle Over E15 Continues

While the EPA has approved of E15 use in vehicles manufactured since 2001, gasoline retailers are reluctant to stock the fuel.

May 10, 2012

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - E15, that blend of 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline, is having a tough time making it to the pumps, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Even though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has okayed the fuel for use in vehicles manufactured since 2001, car makers contend that filling up with E15 will void vehicle warranties. New Toyotas feature gas caps warning drivers to use "Up to E10 gasoline only"€"a clear contradiction of the EPA recommendation.

As for gasoline retailers, most are unwilling to move forward because of concerns that the higher ethanol fuel will eat away pumps and underground pipes. Many are also concerned that selling E15 will mean upgrading to expensive new equipment.

The Missouri Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association has recommended its members not sell E15 because the National Conference of Weights and Measures, which is the standard-setter for gasoline pumps, has not approved use of the new fuel on older equipment.

That uncertainty translates into station owners being fearful of having a spill but reluctant to upgrade. "You're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars to make that investment, and you don't even know if the demand is there," said Ron Leone, the association€™s executive director.

Midwestern states have rallied behind E15, with Illinois, Iowa and Kansas expected to be among the first to sell the fuel. Ethanol manufacturers have been pushing for widespread acceptance of E15. In Congress, a House panel in February endorsed further study on E15.