WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government approved new ethanol labels for gasoline pumps on Tuesday to warn drivers to use the right blend for their car, but critics said consumers might still become confused.
The Environmental Protection Agency required the new orange and black labels after it approved a 50 percent boost in the ethanol blend rate in gasoline for cars built since 2001.
The labels warn consumers against using gasoline with up to 15 percent ethanol in older vehicles, motorcycles, boats and other gasoline-powered equipment because it could damage engines.
It is unclear how quickly E15 gasoline will be adopted by service station owners. Many station operators have to invest in new pumps and separate storage tanks. Many stations will continue to sell gasoline with 10 percent ethanol, which can be used in all makes of vehicle.
E15 can be used in some 150 million cars and trucks on the roads in the United States, which consumes 74 percent of U.S. gasoline production.
"EPA's decision to rely solely on retail gasoline pump labels to protect consumers from misfueling with gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol is woefully inadequate," the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association said.
The trade group noted that the last time the EPA allowed two types of gasoline to be sold side by side was in the 1970s, when leaded gasoline was phased out. During that time, 20 percent of motorists mistakenly or intentionally used the wrong fuel.
However, Growth Energy, the ethanol trade group that petitioned the EPA for the higher ethanol-blended gasoline, said the home-grown, corn-based fuel had been rigorously tested and would help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.