The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it now will allow up to 15 percent ethanol to be blended with gasoline in motor fuel -- but only for use in cars and trucks built since 2007.
The current allowable limit is 10 percent, and remains so for older vehicles, all motorcycles, heavy-duty vehicles and non-road engines (everything from leaf blowers to motorboats).
That sets up potential confusion at the gas pump. Buyers could have to choose not only among octane ratings but also between E-10 and E-15. And while E-10 now is fairly common, stations are not required to offer it or the new E-15 -- and some already say they are going to sit out E-15 for now.
The move does not affect special E-85 fuel -- an 85 percent ethanol/gas blend not considered gasoline at all -- already allowed by the EPA. E-85, sold mostly in the Midwest, only can be used in vehicles designed as "flex fuel" machines, to take the higher concentration of more-corrosive ethanol without damage.
EPA says thorough testing has shown E-15 won't cause problems in the newer vehicles.
Even though the E-15 blend is intended for cars and trucks -- indeed, it's technically illegal to use it in other engines -- the small-engine lobby figures it'll nevertheless wind up in the hundreds of millions of chainsaws, leaf blowers, lawn mowing equipment, boats, all-terrain vehicles and the like.