Ethanol rule gets White House review

Source: Marc Heller, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2019

An EPA regulatory proposal that would allow sales of higher-ethanol fuel this summer has advanced to the White House review stage, encouraging ethanol advocates.

The agency sent its proposal to the White House Office of Management and Budget yesterday, including recommendations for changes to the renewable fuel credits market that’s part of the renewable fuel standard, according to an EPA spokesperson. President Trump has promised to have the regulations ready in time for summer sales.

“We are encouraged by reports that the EPA is on track to get this rule in place by June 1, as the president promised,” said Leigh Claffey, a spokeswoman for Growth Energy, in a statement. “Rural communities, drivers, and biofuel producers across the heartland are counting on the administration to open the door to competition at the fuel pump all year long.”

“We hope to expeditiously propose and finalize the rule consistent with the President’s direction,” an EPA spokesman said in a statement.

The agency must complete final regulations allowing year-round sales of E15 fuel — 15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gasoline — soon in order to allow summer-season sales by June 1, officials have said. That’s the date E15 becomes unavailable due to summer ozone rules.

President Trump has promised farm groups and the ethanol industry that the administration will lift seasonal restrictions on E15. The changes being contemplated to renewable fuel credits address complaints from petroleum refiners that the system is costly and vulnerable to abuse.

Last week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue confused the issue by telling a House committee that the rule would not likely be finished in time — an assertion later countered by EPA officials and recanted by the secretary in a tweet (E&E News PM, Feb. 27).