E15 cleared the final regulatory conditions imposed by the EPA in 2012, but its path to market has not been smooth sailing. Earlier this year, the Grocery Manufacturers Association filed a lawsuit against EPA, suggesting that the agency overstepped its authority under the Clean Air Act when it granted partial waivers allowing E15 to be used in certain engines. However, on August 17, the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia Circuit sided with the EPA, confirming its partial waiver approval for E15.

In July, just as the first few gallons were flowing from the first retail fuel station to sell E15, the American Petroleum Institute (API) warned that E15 “could lead to engine damage in more than 5 million vehicles on the road today and could void the manufacturer’s warranty.”

Also in July, a group of livestock and poultry organizations asked EPA for a waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard. A bipartisan group of senators urged the EPA to adjust the RFS to ease supply concerns and provide livestock and poultry producers relief from high corn prices, caused by the widespread drought.

Lawsuits and issues like these have kept the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Growth Energy and the American Coalition for Ethanol busy this past year. Obstacles will likely continue in the months ahead as competition for the consumer’s fuel dollar heats up. But the following timeline suggests that the ethanol industry is committed to the long-term success of E15.

Bear in mind that Growth Energy, a coalition of U.S. ethanol supporters, including farmers and members of the ethanol supply chain, first filed the “Green Jobs Waiver” seeking federal approval to increase blends of ethanol in fuel from 10% to 15% in March 2009.

E15 timeline

October 13, 2010

The EPA issues a partial waiver for E15 in 2007 and newer vehicles.

January 21, 2011

The EPA issues a partial waiver of E15 for 2001 to 2006 model year vehicles.

April 2, 2012

The EPA approves E15 as a registered fuel. The RFA calls this “the most significant development in a three-year effort to approve sale of the mid-level ethanol blend.”

April 23, 2012

The ethanol industry satisfies all federal requirements for E15 commercial sales as set by the partial E15 waiver granted by the EPA.

June 15, 2012

The Obama administration approves the sale of E15 under the waiver conditions set by EPA.

July 11, 2012

The Zarco 66 “Oasis” station in Lawrence, Kan., becomes the first fuel retailer to sell E15 in the U.S.

September 17, 2012

Linn Co-op Oil Company, Marion, is Iowa’s first retailer to offer E15. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA), Iowa Corn Growers and the Iowa Power Fund Community Grant Program sponsor a media campaign to introduce the community’s consumers to E15.

September 19, 2012

The expiration of EPA’s summer volatility restriction on September 15 resulted in an increase in E15 offerings. Five stations in Kansas begin offering E15, bringing the total in the state to seven.

October 23, 2012

Uncle Neal’s Phillips 66 in Lexington, Neb. becomes the first fuel retailer in Nebraska to offer E15. The Nebraska Corn Board and RFA worked with Hoff to ensure he was registered for the fuel survey, adopted the misfueling mitigation plan created by the RFA, and that pumps were labeled properly for selling E15.