Ethanol, Ag Want E15 Label Changes

Ethanol Groups Call on EPA to Fix E15 Labels, Infrastructure Issues

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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Ethanol and agriculture groups asked EPA to make changes to E15 pump labels in comments to the agency this week. (DTN file photo by Chris Clayton)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- Though ethanol groups see no reason for E15 labels on pumps, the industry offered recommendations to EPA at the close of a public comment period on Monday, suggesting such a label should at least be made clearer to consumers.

Back in January EPA proposed a number of possible labeling changes to E15 pumps, including modifying or eliminating labels altogether.

Ethanol industry officials have been concerned the current labels offer warnings to consumers that discourage use of E15. On the other hand, groups also have suggested the expansion of E15 at fuel stations adds to the risk of using the wrong fuel and labels should be more explicit.….

In addition, EPA proposed changes to allow proper underground storage of E15 and for future allowances for higher ethanol blends.

In public comments, Growth Energy said a new label should not discourage motorists from using E15.

"Growth Energy supports modification of the E15 label requirement to increase clarity and ensure it adequately advises consumers of appropriate uses of the fuel, while not unnecessarily dissuading the vast majority of consumers whose vehicles can refuel with E15," the group said in its comments.

In addition, Growth Energy said there is "ample support" that existing storage equipment can store E15 if already suitable for E10,….

Growth Energy Chief Executive Officer Emily Skor said in a statement it was important to make E15 more accessible to motorists.

"Clearing hurdles to the sale of E15 and growing markets of biofuels would also provide an economic lifeline for rural communities as they continue to rebuild in the wake of COVID-19," she said.

"Between the economic and environmental benefits, fixing E15 labeling and infrastructure is a win-win for America."

In joint comments to EPA, a number of Iowa agriculture and biofuels groups said getting the E15 labels right is an urgent matter.

The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association called on the agency to make E15 label changes that are "simple, informational and factual." The groups also asked EPA to clarify that all existing underground storage tanks are compatible with blends up to E15,….

"Iowa leads the nation in both corn and ethanol production and growing the market for E15 is crucial to our state's economic, agricultural, energy and environmental future," the groups said.

"Regulatory changes have the potential to accelerate the commercial expansion of E15, which is the most immediate, available and affordable path to carbon reduction in the transportation sector. While the proposed rule is a good start, the bottom line is that it does not go far enough. We want to help elevate it by knocking down unnecessary regulatory barriers that would prevent E15 commercial growth and stifle carbon reduction as a result."

The Renewable Fuels Association said in comments to EPA it believes an E15 label is not needed, but supports what it calls modest changes to the current label,….

RFA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Kelly Davis said in comments that EPA data suggests more than 95% of vehicles on the road are legally approved to use E15. Because of that, Davis said RFA's preference is for a black-and-white label without unnecessarily "alarmist language."

"While RFA continues to question the long-term need for an E15 pump label, we currently support the first of the two options co-proposed by EPA (i.e., modifications to the existing label)," Davis said.

"We believe a modified label represents a reasonable 'middle ground' between stakeholders who support the complete elimination of the label and those who support retaining the current label design."

Davis said the group supports EPA's proposed changes to underground storage tank compatibility requirements, while recommending EPA reconsider the potential exemption from this requirement for storing fuel for emergency power generators and other off-road fuel.

American Coalition for Ethanol Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty said in comments to the agency its proposed changes in storage tank compatibility rules and labeling requirements would make it easier for stations to store and sell E15,….

"The proposed rule removes unnecessarily harsh restrictions that were put in place as a response to misinformation-based fear created by carefully crafted and heavily promoted anti-ethanol myths, which have been 'busted' by more than 10 years of E15 use, with retailers reporting no damage claims and no increase in releases from UST systems," Lamberty said.

The group said it would prefer the agency eliminate E15 labeling requirements altogether. In addition, ACE said it opposes a proposed move to allow other government entities to provide their own E15 labels.

"Allowing state and local government labels would be seen by those with considerable resources as permission to lobby for anti-ethanol labels at every government level," Lamberty said in the comments.

"It would create confusion and doubt for motorists traveling between states and would do the opposite of what EPA hopes to accomplish."

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Todd Neeley

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