Despite Serious Misfueling Concerns, EPA Approves E15 for 2001-2006 Model Year Vehicles

WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 21, 2011 –  Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the use of E15 for another subset of on-highway motor vehicles, this time allowing the use of gasoline containing up to 15% ethanol for model year 2001-2006 cars and trucks. Last October, the EPA approved the use of E15 for model year 2007 and newer vehicles as part of its response to a waiver petition filed in the spring of 2009 by pro-ethanol lobby group Growth Energy.

While both partial waivers exclude marine engines and other non-road engines such as snowmobiles, lawn and garden equipment, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) continues to be concerned that EPA does not plan to take significant steps to address anticipated problems with consumer confusion and the risk of misfueling. EPA will also not take action to ensure compatible fuels remain available for the nation’s 13 million registered boat owners or the hundreds of millions of owners of gasoline-powered equipment. Earlier this month, a bipartisan group of 9 Senators expressed similar concerns in a letter to the EPA.

Gasoline retailers will not be able to sell E15 until EPA completes a new pump label rulemaking. Click here to download NMMA’s full comments on the pump label rulemaking.

In December 2010, the NMMA filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit challenging EPA’s earlier decision to approve E15 for model year 2007 and newer motor vehicles. NMMA joined the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers (AIAM) in a newly-formed coalition called the Engine Products Group (EPG) in pursuing this legal challenge.

“EPA’s decision to permit the use of E15 for even more on-road vehicles greatly increases the likehood of misfueling for boats and other small engines,” said NMMA President Thom Dammrich. “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. We will continue to pursue this legal option to make sure that our manufacturers and consumers are protected from this incompatible marine fuel.”

NMMA, in conjunction with its partners in the Engine Products Group, will continue to seek relief in the courts, along with two other groups that have filed similar lawsuits. For more information, contact Cindy Squires at 202-737-9766 or csquires@nmma.org.