Where to find E15 gas in Erie County as summertime ban lifted
President Joe Biden announced on April 12 that his administration will lift the summertime ban on E15 gasoline to help ease high gas prices.
But unless something changes, residents of Erie County will have a hard time finding E15 gas as an option.
E15 fuel — commonly seen at the pump as Unleaded 88 — is a mix of regular gasoline and a smaller amount of ethanol, a plant-based fuel typically made from corn in the United States. The “15” in the name means that it includes 15% ethanol.
Biden’s announcement:White House expands ethanol use, trying to lower gas prices
The Environmental Protection Agency will issue a waiver that would allow the blend to be used between June 1 and Sept. 15. The sale of E15 gasoline is usually prohibited from June to mid-September under the Clean Air Act because of air pollution concerns.
American drivers usually fill their tanks with E10 gas, fuel with a 10% mix of ethanol, which averaged about $4.21 per gallon in Pennsylvania on Monday, according to AAA. E15 sales could save consumers 10 cents per gallon on average, while reducing reliance on foreign fuels, according to the official statement.
The White House estimated that approximately 2,300 stations in the country offer the blend. Compared with E10 gas, there are fewer gas stations that sell E15 gasoline because of the challenges involved with providing it, said Patrick De’Haan head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.com.
“There’s just so many hurdles with being able to sell (E15) that stations have a very hard time knowing if their existing equipment works, finding a supplier of E15 … there’s just a lot of complexities to bring into the market,” he said. “Some stations will get into it because there are incentives to sell more ethanol, but again, there’s a pretty steep cost to bring into your station.”
Pros and cons of E15 gas
Ethanol is a renewable, domestically produced transportation fuel that helps reduce vehicle emissions, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Ethanol also has a higher octane number than regular unleaded gasoline, which provides increased power and performance.
E15 is safe for most cars manufactured in 2001 or later and newer light-duty vehicles, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Car owners should still consult their owner’s manuals before filling up on E15.
Gas-powered engines that cannot use E15 include:
- All motorcycles
- All vehicles with heavy-duty engines, such as school buses and delivery trucks
- All off-road vehicles, such as boats and snowmobiles
- All engines in off-road equipment, such as chain saws and gasoline lawn mowers
- All conventional vehicles older than model year 2001
The blend’s higher volatility can contribute to smog in warmer weather, which is why the EPA banned its sales during the summer, but recent studies have shown E15 reduces ground-level ozone pollution and smog compared to regular gasoline.
In a recent study by the University of California-Riverside, scientists found that E15 reduced particle pollution and toxic gases, cutting the potential for ground level ozone formation by 10% to 15% compared to regular gasoline in most vehicles.
“Because of the way the antiquated law was written, there has to be distinct approval for this type of fuel because it’s not necessarily a normal fuel,” De’Haan said. “It’s something that’s new and it’s being brought up to market kind of under an old regulatory system. I’m sure (the system) is something that will be looked at down the road, but it’s kind of a fight between oil and ethanol.”
Where to find it in Erie County
De’Haan said people could realistically save 5 cents to 10 cents per gallon filling up on E15 fuel, and as much as 40 cents per gallon.
The Sheetz at 8180 Perry Highway in Summit Township sold Unleaded 88 for $3.85 per gallon, compared to Unleaded 87 — regular-grade fuel — which sold for $4.15 per gallon last Thursday.
“It really just depends on where you’re located, there are some stations that price it more competitively,” De’Haan said. “Whether or not it’s significant, there’s a lot of factors, but when prices are $4 a gallon, it is some savings.”
Other gas stations in Erie County might sell E15 gas, but the Erie Times-News was only able to confirm one, the Sheetz on Perry Highway.