Ethanol group launches campaign for final E15 rule by summer

Source: By Marc Heller, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The ethanol lobby has launched a new ad campaign for E15 fuel. Iowa Renewable Fuels Association

The Renewable Fuels Association has launched a new promotional campaign for higher-ethanol fuel, as pressure grows on EPA to follow through in expanding availability by this summer.

The ethanol industry group started the campaign, at a cost it declined to disclose, with a new website and digital advertisements in The Washington Post.

“It is a race against the clock for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finalize approval for year-round E15 in advance of the summer driving season on June 1,” the RFA said in a news release today announcing the effort. E15 is 15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gasoline.

The website includes a digital countdown clock showing the days, hours, minutes and seconds until June, when restrictions are supposed to be lifted.

EPA has said the partial government shutdown won’t derail its plan to issue regulations on E15 in time to make it available by then. Current regulations limit sales seasonally, based on atmospheric ozone restrictions.

In reality, advocates say, ethanol burns more cleanly than gasoline and reduces carbon emissions compared with petroleum.

Petroleum groups, critical of ethanol mandates in the renewable fuel standard, say they don’t believe EPA can legally make E15 available year-round without authorization from Congress. That makes a legal challenge possible once the restrictions are lifted.

Fuel that’s 10 percent ethanol is already standard in gas stations year-round, thanks to ozone waivers EPA issued years ago. The industry has been pushing for several years for similar treatment for E15, which President Trump promised he would deliver.

The president repeated the promise in a speech yesterday to the American Farm Bureau Federation, saying expanded E15 sales would help farmers. Most ethanol is made from corn.

The RFA believes EPA can keep to the timeline necessary to make E15 available in June, said Geoff Cooper, the association’s president and chief executive officer.

“From the outset, EPA gave itself very little wiggle room to complete the year-round E15 rulemaking before summer, so the shutdown is making a tight timeline even tighter. However, we remain confident that EPA can and will deliver on President Trump’s commitment to resolve the barrier to year-round E15 sales before June 1,” Cooper said in a statement.