If you haven't been to busy in the field this week, you've probably already heard that the U.S. Enviornmental Protection Agency has approved the production of E-15 for consumer purchase in vehicles 2001 and newer and in flex fuel vehicles. E-15 has already been available at so-called "blender pumps" and powered NASCAR races cars to drive over a million miles last season. But what does this mean on the broader scale and what does it mean for Illinois corn farmers?
Once EPA certified ethanol plants for the fuel production, it is a legal fuel for commerce under Section 211 of the Clean Air Act. There are still a few regulatory requirements that must be met for E-15 to become fully available. The first is an approved mis-fueling mitigation program. The second is a survey of the industry selling E-15.
Retailers and blenders will register to be part of the national survey. This allows EPA to understand where the new fuel will be sold and allow for spot-checking for labeling and fueling regulations.
Do you remember, the background on the E-15 waiver request? Growth Energy filed a waiver request with the U.S. EPA back in March of 2009 to allow 15% ethanol to be blended in the nation's fuel supply. Their argument was that without market access to E-15, the industry could not meet the requirements as set forth by the Renewable Fuels Standard. Also, industry research indicated that E-15 was substantially similar to E-10 in its performance, making the ten percent blend level an arbitrary designation.