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NPRA comment on EPA E15 regulations

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Gregory M. Scott, executive vice president and general counsel of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association (NPRA), testified at an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) public hearing on 16th November that proposed EPA regulations designed to prevent misfueling with gasoline containing 15% ethanol (E15) will fail to protect customers.

‘E15 will find its way into older vehicles, small engines and boats with dire consequences for personal safety, irreversible engine damage, consumer confusion, operational problems, loss of manufacturers’ reputations and warranty arguments,’ Scott said in prepared testimony. ‘The risks are large and daunting.’

Back story

EPA approved the use of E15 October 13th for cars and light duty trucks produced for the 2007 model year and later, but did not approve use of E15 for older cars and light duty trucks. In addition, EPA did not approve the use of E15 for any model year for motorcycles, heavy duty trucks, buses boats, snowmobiles and engines for gasoline powered equipment such as lawnmowers and chain saws.

EPA’s October 13th decision increased the amount of ethanol allowed in gasoline for newer cars and light duty trucks by 50% from the previous limit of 10% (E10).

The environmental agency’s proposed regulation includes E15 fuel pump labeling requirements designed to make consumers aware when a pump dispenses E15 and to educate consumers on the very limited number of vehicles that EPA has determined can use E15. EPA also proposed a quarterly survey of gasoline retailers designed to help ensure that gasoline pumps are properly labeled.

Hearing comments

EPA’s hearing on 16th November in Chicago was held to hear public comments on the pump label regulation.

‘American families, farmers, truckers and businesses rely on NPRA members millions of times every day to provide affordable, reliable and safe fuels for use in their gasoline powered on road and non-road engines,’ Scott said in his prepared testimony. ‘EPA partial waiver decision undermines this reliance. EPA’s proposed misfueling rule is woefully inadequate to guard effectively against the potential harm that consumers will experience due to the E15 partial waiver.’

Scott said that ‘it is inevitable that if E15 is made available at retail, many consumers will misfuel, putting the wrong gasoline into the wrong engine. This misfueling may occur intentionally, due to price differential or a quality perception, or unintentially, due to consumer confusion or inattention. Such misfueling cannot be avoided merely with a dispenser label.’

‘NPRA asks EPA to convene a roundtable discussion of appropriate stakeholders, separate and apart from this public hearing, to discuss misfueling concerns and possible strategies to prevent misfueling,’ Scott added. ‘Such a stakeholder roundtable should be conducted prior to the close of the public comment period on the proposed rule to provide stakeholders with the opportunity to include information derived from this roundtable in their comments. If EPA declines to convene such a stakeholder roundtable, NPRA suggests that stakeholders themselves arrange such a meeting.’

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