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E15: Moving Forward

June 29, 2011

           

Make no mistake; EPA's final E15 label released yesterday is not the end of the E15 story.  Anti-ethanol and renewable fuel interests are continuing their legal challenges and will no doubt step up efforts to scare and misinform consumers about the efficacy of ethanol-blended fuels.  However, having a final label now in place means the ethanol industry can move forward with efforts to fight back these scare tactics and inform retailers and consumers alike about the safe and legal use of E15 blends. The label released by EPA yesterday is an improvement from the original label the agency proposed.  This final label will not unintentionally impede or discourage consumers from using E15 and the RFA certainly appreciates the EPA listening and including comments we submitted on the proposed label.  This label is not perfect, but it is an improvement from where this process began and shows an effort by EPA to be responsive to the common sense and fact-based comments made by some, but not all, stakeholders.  Case in point:  we already know that environmental lobbyists are going to attack this label and continue legal challenges despite clear evidence of E15's efficacy for the engines included in the waiver. But the real challenge will be getting E15 widely available in the commercial market.  After the final EPA decision was issued last year, RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen outlined the next steps for E15.  Many of those issues have been the focus of RFA Market Development efforts.  Through programs like the Blend Your Own Ethanol (BYO) campaign and others, the RFA is actively working with retailers to bring more higher level ethanol blends to the market.  Simultaneously, the technical staff of the RFA is working with state regulators to make sure E15 sales can occur.  Some states, like Iowa, are ready to go.  Others will require more fine tuning.  The same was true with E10 blends and today they are the standard.  So, too, will E15. Lastly, the RFA is also working with our friends in the fuel marketing and retail industries to address misfueling concerns.  The RFA is still looking for opportunities to work with lawmakers to reintroduce the Renewable Fuels Marketing Act designed to calm and alleviate misfueling concerns. Gaining meaningful market access for E15 will not happen overnight.  It won't happen with press releases or blog posts, but with elbow grease, patience, and some forward-looking retailers and engine makers helping to lead the way.