EPA Finalizes E15 Pump Labels

Posted on June 28, 2011

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued its fuel pump labeling and other requirements for gasoline blends containing more than 10 and up to 15% ethanol (E15). The requirements are intended to help ensure that E15 is properly labeled and used once it enters the market, the agency said.

The new orange and black label must appear on fuel pumps that dispense E15. This label will inform consumers about which vehicles can use E15. This label will also warn consumers against using E15 in vehicles older than model year 2001, motorcycles, watercraft, and gasoline-powered equipment such as lawnmowers and chainsaws.

Over the past year, EPA issued two partial waivers under the Clean Air Act that in sum allow E15 to be sold for use in model year 2001 and newer cars and light trucks. EPA based its waiver decisions on testing and analysis that it said showed that the vehicles could continue to meet emission standards if operated on E15.

The E15 pump label requirements, which EPA said were developed in coordination with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), adopt elements of FTC’s existing labels for alternative fuels to promote consistent labeling. The rule also includes a prohibition against misfueling with E15; a requirement to track E15 and other fuels as they move through the fuel supply chain so that E15 can be properly blended and labeled; and a quarterly survey to help ensure that gas pumps dispensing E15 are properly labeled.

Industry groups representing the makers of outdoor power equipment and small gasoline engines have objected to the higher ethanol levels, saying that they have the potential to damage millions of engines used in lawnmowers, chain saws, outboard motors, etc. The groups have argued that even with the labeling, the risk of misfueling is high, particularly since E15 is likely to be significantly less expensive than gasoline or E10.

The National Association of Convenience Stores and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America, whose members sell about 80% of the gasoline in the U.S., have also gone on record as opposing the new labeling. The groups said retailers selling E15 could be held liable for damages if consumers inadvertently misfuel their equipment and vehicles. EPA has also issued guidance on the compatibility of underground storage tanks (USTs) with gasoline containing greater than 10% ethanol or diesel containing greater than 20% biodiesel.

More information on the pump labels is available on the EPA website,