New ethanol labels for gasoline pumps have received the green light from the U.S. government as a warning for drivers to use the correct blend for their vehicle. However, critics believe that there may still be some confusion.
The new orange and black labels were required by the Environmental Protection Agency after it approved a 50% increase in the ethanol blend rate in gasoline for cars produced since 2001.
Consumers are warned, via these labels, that they can’t use gasoline with up to 15% ethanol in their older vehicles, motorcycles, boats and other gasoline-powered equipment since the engines could be damaged.
It wasn’t made clear how fast service station owners would adopt the E15 gasoline. Quite a number of station operators would have to invest in new pumps and separate storage tanks. And many stations will still sell gasoline with 10% ethanol, which could be used in all vehicle makes.
About 150 million cars and trucks in the US may use the E15. The U.S. currently consumes 74% of its gasoline production. The National Petrochemical and Refiners Association calls “woefully inadequate” the decision by the EPA to depend entirely on retail gasoline pump labels to prevent consumers from using the wrong type of fuel.
The trade group said that the last time the EPA permitted two types of gasoline to be sold beside each other was in the 1970s, when leaded gasoline was being phased out. Back then, the wrong fuel was used by 20% of motorists, intentional or not.
Growth Energy, the ethanol trade group that sent a petition to the EPA for the higher ethanol-blended gasoline, said that the domestically-grown fuel that’s based on corn underwent rigorous tests and will help the U.S. cut its reliance on foreign oil.