E15 approved for newer-model cars and trucks, not approved for outboards

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday (Jan. 21) granted a waiver to allow gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol to be sold for cars, SUVs and light pickup trucks made in 2001 through 2006. The agency earlier waived the limitations for for so-called E15 for model-year 2007 and newer cars and light trucks.

“Recently completed testing and data analysis show that E15 does not harm emissions control equipment in newer cars and light trucks,” EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said. “Wherever sound science and the law support steps to allow more homegrown fuels in America’s vehicles, this administration takes those steps.”

The EPA also announced that no waiver is being granted this year for E15 use in any motorcycles, heavy-duty vehicles or non-road engines, including boat engines, because current testing data do not support such a waiver. However, the National Marine Manufacturers Association said it has grave misgivings about the decision.

“EPA’s decision to permit the use of E15 for even more on-road vehicles greatly increases the likelihood of misfueling for boats and other small engines,” NMMA president Thom Dammrich said in a statement. “NMMA is very disappointed that EPA has decided to move forward with E15 without mechanisms in place to protect consumers from confusion at the gas pump, as well as the product failures that could be a likely result of misfueling with E15.”

EPA officials on Oct. 13 approved a waiver allowing the use of E15 for model-year 2007 and newer cars and light trucks after after considering the E15 petition submitted by Growth Energy and 54 ethanol manufacturers in March 2009.

In December, the NMMA filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, challenging the EPA’s earlier decision to approve E15 for model-year 2007 and newer motor vehicles. The NMMA joined the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers in a newly formed coalition called the Engine Products Group in pursuing this legal challenge.

The NMMA said it will continue to seek relief in the courts, along with two other groups that have filed similar lawsuits.