WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the first applications for registration of ethanol for use in making gasoline that contains up to 15 percent ethanol (E15).

Ethanol has been blended into gasoline for more than 30 years, but the law limited it to 10 percent by volume for use in gasoline-fueled vehicles. Registration of ethanol to make E15 is a significant step toward its production, sale, and use in model year 2001 and newer gasoline-fueled cars and light trucks, according to the EPA.  

E15 is not permitted for use in motor vehicles built prior to 2001 model-year and in off-road vehicles and equipment, such as boats and lawn and garden equipment.

The EPA said this approval follows an extensive technical review required by law. Registration is a prerequisite to introducing E15 into the marketplace. Before it can be sold, manufacturers must first take additional measures to help ensure retail stations and other gasoline distributors understand and implement labeling rules and other E15-related requirements. EPA is not requiring the use or sale of E15.

After extensive vehicle testing by DOE and other organizations, EPA issued two partial waivers raising the allowable ethanol volume to 15 percent for use in model year 2001 and newer cars and light trucks.

The EPA said fuel pumps dispensing E15 will be clearly labeled to avoid confusion.

More information on E15 is available at the EPA website.