EPA Drafts Guide to Address E15 Storage in USTs

Posted by the National Association of Convenience Stores

WASHINGTON – According to Inside EPA, the EPA is crafting guidance addressing the compatibility of underground storage tanks with E15, “an effort that appears aimed at addressing concerns that increased use of the fuel could increase leaks because the fuel is more corrosive than current blends.”

The news source notes that petroleum retailers hope the guide will allow them to continue using existing USTs to store E15 instead of installing new ones.

Officials from EPA’s Office of Underground Storage Tanks were to discuss the guidance yesterday during a meeting of waste regulators in Bethesda, Maryland. One petroleum marketing attorney told Inside EPA that the guidance “will likely address which tanks can store E15 in order to avoid a repeat of water contamination concerns” that came about from MTBE.

Also, the petroleum marketing attorney commented that EPA “is likely to issue the final guidance on UST’s compatibility to store E15 alongside the pump-labeling rule,” according to the news source.


Our Take:
It’s hard not to see this as yet more foot-dragging from Big Oil, to delay the loss of market share to renewable, cleaner-burning fuel that’s domestically produced–but not by them.

There is no comparison here. Unlike ethanol, MTBE has a unique ability to find its way out of underground storage tanks. This was, unfortunately, discovered too late for communities like Santa Monica, California that suffered serious harm to groundwater supplies when gasoline blenders employed the MTBE petroleum additive as an oxygenate.

Ethanol producers do want their product to be unquestionably safe, and they want to avoid all unnecessary environmental impact, but current underground storage tanks are set up to handle ethanol blends. The idea that the jump from ten to 15 percent blends will change the chemistry enough in the UST to alter tank integrity is far-fetched.

We are waiting for an EPA that, without giving up its watchdog function, “gets” ethanol and other renewable fuels, and sees how vital they are to our country’s energy future.


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