UPDATE 1-US DOE to send EPA test results on E15 fuel Thurs

Wed Sep 29, 2010 11:20pm BST

* EPA expected to decide on E15 gasoline within two weeks

* Approval of E15 gasoline will draw down ethanol surplus (New throughout, adds Energy Department official's comments, background on E15)

By Tom Doggett

WASHINGTON, Sept 29 (Reuters) - The U.S. Energy Department will send to the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday its eagerly awaited tests results on whether vehicles made since 2007 can handle a higher blend of ethanol in their fuel.

"We are planning to get everything over to EPA tomorrow," said the official, who would not elaborate on what the department's test results show.

The EPA will review the test data to make its decision on whether to approve raising the ethanol rate to 115 percent from 10 percent.

"They will take a little while to go through all of that before they make an announcement on their determination," the official said.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said the agency is prepared to make a decision on the fuel known as E15 within two weeks after it received the DOE test data.

The Energy Department does not have a vote in the matter and will not make a specific recommendation on whether the EPA should approve E15 gasoline, the official said.

EPA approval of higher blends could boost U.S. corn growers and ethanol producers, who say they need to draw down a glut of supply.

The federal Renewable Fuel Standard requires energy companies to blend 15 billion gallons of corn-based fuel a year into the gasoline supply by 2015, up from 12 billion gallons this year. (Reporting by Tom Doggett; additional reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by David Gregorio)

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