Well, the good news is that the EPA has thus far refused to allow gasoline blends of more than ten percent ethanol. The bad news is that the Agency has yet to take a firm stand against the idea of eventually allowing E15 into the nation’s gas pumps. In fact, as the EPA’s response to the ethanol lobbying group Growth Energy’s request to allow E15 [full document in PDF form here] opens:
It is vitally important that the country increase the use of renewable fuels. To meet that goal EPA is working to implement the long-term renewable fuels mandate of 36 billion gallons by 2022. To achieve the renewable fuel requirements in future years, it is clear that ethanol will need to be blended into gasoline at levels greater than the current limit of 10 percent.
This time though, the glacial pace of bureaucracy is a positive. Though the EPA believes that “the robust fuel, engine and emissions control systems on newer vehicles (likely 2001 and newer model years) will likely be able to accomodate higher ethanol blends, such as E15,” it won’t have definitive results until August of 2010. After all, the EPA admits that “presently, data are available on only two vehicles.” By May though, it will have tested 12 additional vehicles, making the data set literally good enough for government work. Unless that data “highlights potential problems,” the EPA says it will approve E15 for 2001 model year and later cars, pending the necessary changes in pump and vehicle labeling. [Hat Tip: Paul Greenberg]