Why can’t you buy E15 in California?

California has a history being the first across the line when it comes to protecting the environment.

It was the first state to regulate vehicles’ exhaust, way back in 1965.  In 2006 it started regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions — before the federal government. In fact, California often must file waivers with the EPA for its emissions standards because they’re even more restrictive than national ones.

However, green California hasn’t yet embraced a less carbon-intensive transportation fuel called E15.

The vast majority of regular gas that consumers buy contains 10 percent ethanol. “E10” began being implemented around the country in the 1990s, and now comprises 97 percent of gasoline sold in the U.S. E15, on the other hand, has 50 percent more ethanol and in 2011 was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for use in all vehicles model year 2001 and newer.

E15 currently is available for purchase in 26 states. E15 can lower the risk of cancer — yes, chemicals in gasoline can give you cancer — by replacing some those carcinogenic chemicals with ethanol. The extra ethanol content also has the effect of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. GHG reduction is a high priority for state officials in California, which mandates the lowest carbon intensity of any ethanol in the United States. E15 also is cheaper than regular gasoline.

So why can’t California drivers choose E15?

The latest information on the topic we could find was from 2012, in a statement by an official with the California Air Resources Board (California’s version of the EPA). E15 wasn’t yet available because “it would take several years to complete the vehicle testing and rule development necessary to introduce a new transportation fuel into California’s market.”

E15 availability continues to widen around the country, and New York is moving to bring it to market.

Will California be next? Stay tuned.

Edit: The California Air Resources Board responded to our inquiry about E15 in California to say nothing has changed from 2012.

Related posts: