FTC issues final amendments to ethanol-gasoline blends labeling rule

The US Federal Trade Commission adopted rating, certification, and labeling requirements for certain ethanol-gasoline blends as it issued final amendments to its automotive fuel ratings, certification, and posting rule.

The rule amendments, which FTC announced on Dec. 28, 2015, determine the fuel rating that appears on fuel dispenser labels, how octane levels are calculated, and helps drivers make informed decisions about which fuel to use when filling up their vehicles.

The commission published a proposed rulemaking notice in April 2014 seeking public comment on new rating, certification, and labeling requirements for gasoline blends with more than 10% ethanol, known as ethanol blends; and an alternative method to determine the octane rating of gasoline, which is known as infrared spectrophotometry.

The final amendments require that fuel marketers rate and certify all ethanol blends with ethanol content ranging from more than 10% to 83%. They also require that retailers post labels with ethanol percentage disclosures and with the statement: “Use only in Flex-Fuel Vehicles/May Harm Other Engines.” FTC did not adopt the alternative method of determining the gasoline octane rating.

It said it considered comments received as well as recent US Environmental Protection Agency ethanol blends decisions. Commissioners unanimously approved announcing the changes in a Jan. 14 Federal Register notice.

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute in Alexandria, Va., said it appreciated the FTC’s efforts, but was concerned that the federal regulator might not have gone far enough.

“We fear consumers will remain confused and inadvertently misfuel their small engine equipment, in particular,” OPEI Pres. Ken Kiser said. “We would like for labels to get more attention from consumers, and for EPA or the FTC to commit funding to educate consumers about proper fuel usage.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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