Retailer Columns

20 BILLION Dollars’ Worth of FREE E15 Equipment – Available Soon

Do you really want to offer unleaded E15 to your customers? I mean, if cost were no object, would you like to at least have the option to offer higher octane unleaded E15 – usually selling for about a nickel a gallon less than the traditional lowest priced 10 percent ethanol blend sold everywhere? If so, good news. The cost of offering unleaded E15 (or unleaded88 or regular88, or whatever you call it), which has never been as large an object as you’ve been told it was, should soon become officially a dramatically smaller object for most and literally no object for others.

EPA is reviewing comments on its proposed rule changes for E15 labeling and requirements to demonstrate underground storage tank (UST) system compatibility with higher ethanol blends and will issue final changes early this summer. The labeling changes should make consumers less afraid of a fuel they shouldn’t have been afraid of in the first place, and the UST regulations won’t change the fact underground equipment has to be compatible, but they will eliminate the intimidating cluster of obstacles retailers currently have to clear to store and sell E15 using existing equipment.

It has never been true to say most stations would have to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of new equipment to sell E15, but it is accurate to say most stations would find it nearly impossible to prove existing equipment is compatible under the intimidating rules EPA created based on (carefully manufactured) E15 misinformation. The proposed rule change would allow marketers some new logical and safe options for proving compatibility.

Over the years, professional ethanol haters slowed the E15 roll-out to a crawl by, among other things, filling station owners’ and operators’ heads with ghost stories about liability and being required to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on new tanks, lines, and other fueling equipment to offer customers E15. Unfortunately, those ghost stories have seemed very real to most fuel marketers, who still believe the “high cost of converting to E15” myth and have never checked their own equipment. At the same time, the Big Oil PR machine also frightened regulators, who mandated big scary orange E15 dispenser warning labels and enacted unprecedented compatibility demonstration requirements that killed just about any retailer’s remaining consideration of “converting” to sell E15 – even when they knew their equipment was compatible.

Those things are especially frustrating when you know the ethanol industry asked EPA to approve E15 rather than a higher blend, precisely because UL’s listing for ethanol blends said “up to 15% alcohol” in most of the tests, and UL’s definition of “gasoline and alcohol blends” included up to 100 percent of either product. Yet somehow, EPA ignored the facts, believed the anti-E15 horror stories, and wrote rules protecting the world from imaginary monsters.

The best way to get rid of ghosts and monsters is to turn on the lights to see those things don’t exist. The Flex Check compatibility tool was built to shine light on the fact most current fueling equipment is E15 compatible, and thousands of marketers have used the tool and become less afraid of E15. More importantly, some folks at EPA tried and even referenced Flex Check in their recent proposed rulemaking on E15 Labeling and USTs, which would allow fuel marketers to provide reasonable, logical proof their equipment is compatible with E15. 

Maybe the best part of the EPA proposed rule is we can finally embrace the oil lobbyists “math” and their $600k per store equipment cost numbers, to calculate EPA’s changes (which, again, don’t change requirements, and merely make it easier for marketers to prove their already compatible equipment is actually compatible) and point out EPA just made at least 20 billion dollars’ worth of equipment available for storing and sell E15!

Who says new petro math can’t be fun?!

Comments (0)

Add a Comment

Allowed tags: <b><i><br>Add a new comment:

Become a Member of the Family.