E15 ethanol fuels took one step closer to commercial availability. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved health effects testing on E15 fuel submitted by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy.

Health effects testing is a required step in the approval of any new fuel or fuel additive.  With EPA’s acceptance of the results of the testing submitted by the ethanol groups, suppliers of ethanol and E15 are now able to register with EPA to offer the fuel.  This is not the green light for E15 sales yet, but the health effects testing is a significant milestone to have passed.

EPA concluded, "Our evaluation therefore concludes that RFA/Growth Energy has submitted data and analysis that would satisfy the Tier 1 and Tier 2 testing requirements for registration."

“EPA’s action today puts E15 on the precipice of commercialization and means that consumers may be able to choose a more affordable E15 option in time for the expensive summer driving season,” RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen.  “Increasing America’s use of homegrown ethanol will create jobs, reduce harmful tailpipe emissions, and make this nation more energy secure.  This is huge step toward meaningful market expansion for domestically-produced ethanol.”

The acceptance of the health effects testing clears the way for the final steps in registering E15 as a fuel and offering it in the marketplace.  One step is to have ethanol and fuel companies register with EPA.  The RFA expects that to begin happening as early as this afternoon. 

The other step is the formulation of a misfueling mitigation plan.  As the E15 waiver extends only to MY2001 and newer vehicles, and excludes a number of non-road, marine, and vehicle engines, helping ensure consumers are legally and appropriately using E15 is critical.  The RFA has submitted a misfueling mitigation plan to EPA that would serve as a model plan that fuel retailers must follow to be in compliance with EPA regulations.  Once this plan is completed, and companies register with EPA, E15 can be sold to the EPA-approved vehicles in states and at stations that are prepared to do so.

The RFA is leading an effort to ensure state fuel regulations allow for the sale of E15 and that retailers and consumers are properly using the fuel. 

Complete information on the E15 waiver, including final steps left take, is available here.