Ethanol Lobbies for a Two-Word Legal Change

Source: By Mark Drajem, Bloomberg • Posted: Friday, April 15, 2016

Ethanol producers say they need two words, “or more,” added to a section of the Clean Air Act to boost demand for their product. They’re going to be making their case in 130 visits to Capitol Hill offices this week.The American Coalition for Ethanol, which represents ethanol producers and farmers, is set to have 70 of its members in Washington Wednesday as it tries to counter the growing push from oil companies to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard. While that fight has been hashed out in detail for years, a side issue on EPA rules is shaping up to be the kind of issue that actually could find its way into a piece of legislation.

“We are trying to build momentum, in case something breaks loose in the Senate, or in the lame duck,” Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the ethanol group, said in an interview

The issue dates back to the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990. In it, EPA was mandated to lift the summertime cap on Reid vapor pressure in 10 percent blends of ethanol and gasoline, or E10. The Reid vapor pressure is used to measure the amount of smog that can be formed by emissions from the fuel, which is worse in warm weather. Now, however, EPA has approved the use of E15 blends, but hasn’t lifted the emissions cap for those fuel with 15 percent ethanol.

The measures the group is pushing, H.R. 1736 and S. 1239, essentially would just add the phrase “or more” to the provision lifting the Reid vapor pressure cap for E10. That would allow gasoline blended with more ethanol to get the same treatment.

“EPA has the authority they need to do this, but it’s clear to us they won’t act without Congress,” Jennings said. Legislation “would essentially update what we think is an outdated regulation.