July 08, 2010

EPA Issues Status Update On E15 Waiver Request

The EPA recently issued a status update on the E15 waiver request.

What is the status of the E-15 waiver request?

  • In response to the E-15 waiver request, EPA worked with DOE, who undertook a multi-million dollar testing regimen that will provide the information EPA needs to make a sound, technically correct and legally supportable decision.
  • Consistent with national protocols and in conformance with engineering best practices, the testing program has included hundreds of vehicles, including 82 vehicles undergoing full useful life testing. And in order to accelerate timetables and collect sufficient lifetime emissions performance data, full useful life testing of vehicles is ongoing 24 hours a day at essentially all of the independent test facilities in North America. Under this accelerated protocol each vehicle requires testing for 6-9 months.
  • By the end of this September, DOE testing on newer vehicles (covering the 2007 and younger motor vehicle fleet) will be completed and EPA plans to take action on the waiver request regarding the use of E-15 in those vehicles. If those test results support E15, then EPA will also propose a labeling rule at that time on fuel dispensing equipment.
  • In November, DOE testing on vehicles covering the 2001-2006 model years will also be complete and EPA can then make a further determination on the use of E-15 for these vehicles. Again, if these tests are positive, then the label will be adjusted to reflect the expanded use of E-15 before the rule is finalized.
  • It’s also important to remember that there are a number of additional steps that must be completed – many of which are not under EPA or DOE control – to allow the sale and distribution of E-15. These include but are not limited to: testing on dispensing equipment; changes to state laws to allow for the use of E15; and completion of the fuels registration process by industry.

That is pretty much the same thing that the assistant administrator, Gina McCarthy said in a recent speech. The interesting thing though is the timeline. Last year the EPA issued a notice on the waiver request.

EPA has received a request for a waiver under section 211(f)(4) of the Clean Air Act for ethanol blends up to 15 volume percent (E15). The Administrator must make a decision on the waiver application within 270 days of receipt. Since the application was received on March 6, 2009, it must be granted or denied by December 1, 2009.

If each vehicle requires 6-9 months of testing and the first series of tests is expected to be done at the end of September 2010, that would mean that those vehicles hadn't even started testing before the original deadline had passed.

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