Ag, Energy Groups Push Congress for E15 Fix in Lame-Duck Session

Source: By Todd Neeley, Progressive Farmer • Posted: Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Agriculture and energy groups have called on Congressional leaders to pass legislation to secure year-round E15 sales. (DTN file photo)
Agriculture and energy groups have called on Congressional leaders to pass legislation to secure year-round E15 sales. (DTN file photo)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) — With Congress just weeks away from the close of the lame-duck session, agriculture, biofuels and petroleum interests joined forces this week in calling on lawmakers to pass a legislative fix for year-round E15.

The groups want equal regulatory treatment for all gasoline blends containing 10% ethanol or more, including gasoline with 15% ethanol.

The letter was sent to Senate and House leaders as well as chairs of key congressional committees.

The letter not only had the backing of typical ethanol and farm lobbies but the American Petroleum Institute (API) as well.

“By ensuring uniformity across the nation’s fuel supply chain, federal legislation will provide more flexibility and result in more consistent outcomes than a state-by-state regulatory landscape,” the letter said.

“In the absence of such legislation, we could see gasoline marketplace uncertainty and political disputes over E15 that would continue to resurface every summer. Thus, we urge Congress to act quickly to adopt legislation that will bring certainty and consistency to the fuel market, while also finally resolving long-standing differences among many stakeholders about fuel volatility regulations.”

The Biden administration granted a waiver in April that allowed E15 sales to continue through the summer months after a Trump administration rule was thrown out by a federal court. Still, the industry continues to wait for either the EPA to issue a new proposed rule or Congress to make a permanent fix before the beginning of the next summer driving season in June 2023.

Governors in nine states also are awaiting a response from EPA on their petitions to allow year-round E15 sales in their states, including Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Ohio.

E15 has been hamstrung by a technicality known as Reid vapor pressure, or RVP.

The nine states asked for the removal of the 1-pound-per-square-inch (psi) RVP waiver for E10 ethanol blends. Currently, there is an RVP limit of 10 psi for E10 and 9 psi for gasoline in the summer months.

The Clean Air Act allows governors to notify EPA that they wish to reject the use of the 1-psi waiver for E10 in their states. This would result in the application of the same volatility limitation to both E15 and E10 in their states — essentially putting E10 and E15 on the same footing.

This would compel fuel suppliers to reduce RVP of CBOB, a common grade of gasoline produced by refiners in the U.S., from 8.8 to 7.8 psi. The Clean Air Act requires governors to show such action would benefit air quality in their states.

Congress previously amended the Clean Air Act in 1990 to provide a 1-psi RVP waiver for fuel blends “containing gasoline and 10% ethanol.” At the time, E10 was the highest ethanol blend stock sold.

After years of lobbying by the biofuels industry, EPA issued a rule in 2019 declaring E15 as “substantially similar” to E10 and extended the RVP waiver to gasoline “containing at least 10%” ethanol to E15.

“Due to the current policy, it is extremely difficult for many fuel marketers and retailers that may desire to offer E15 to their customers in the summer months to source that product,” the letter said.

“Our groups have come together — for the first time ever — to support legislation that would resolve this issue once and for all.”

The letter was signed by API, as well as Renewable Fuels Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Growth Energy, National Association of Convenience Stores, National Corn Growers Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Union, National Sorghum Producers, NATSO, representing truck stops and travel plazas, and SIGMA: America’s Leading Fuel Marketers.

Read the letter here: https://files.constantcontact.com/…

Read more on DTN:

“List of Midwest States Seeking E15 Rulemaking Grows to Nine With Ohio Request,” https://www.dtnpf.com/…

“Groups Press EPA’s Regan to Act on E15,” https://www.dtnpf.com/…

“Biden in IA: Year-Round E15 Coming Back,” https://www.dtnpf.com/…

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

|