The sale of mid-level blends between E10 and E85 is legal because they are covered under EPA’s emissions certification FFVs.
It is indeed legal today to sell blends of ethanol beyond 10% – as long as the fuels are clearly labeled for use only in FFVs.
Automakers currently certify all makes and models to operate on up to 10% ethanol. E85 is an alternative fuel for use in FFVs, which are designed to run on gasoline or any ethanol blend to up 85%. As for mid-level ethanol blends such as E20, E30, and E40, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that their sale is indeed allowed for fueling FFVs.
When asked by the South Dakota Petroleum Marketers Association for clarification on the legality of retailing these mid-level ethanol blends, the agency weighed in on the matter in a November 2006 letter. The letter stated: “With respect to the sale of blends such as E20 and E30 for use in FFVs, such blends are covered under the emissions certification for an E85 FFV, and thus are not prohibited under the Clean Air Act. I am not aware of any federal law that prohibits sale of such blends for use in FFVs.”
Most branded oil companies will have rules about the marketing of E85 and mid-level blends. They may require different product identification labels. However, under provisions of the Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007, a branded supplier can’t prevent a station owner from installing a renewable fuel pump, converting an existing tank to hold renewable fuel, nor keep them from advertising the sale of those fuels. Station operators can also purchase renewable fuels from persons other than the franchisor, display advertising signs, put flex-fuel prices on the price sign, and accept credit card payment for the fuel.