House, Senate Bills Would Give EPA Authority to Allow Year-Round E15 Sales

Source: By Todd Neeley, DTN Staff Reporter • Posted: Thursday, July 15, 2021

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) — Two bipartisan members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday introduced the “Year-Round Fuel Choice Act” designed to give EPA the power to approve year-round sales of E15 across the country. Companion legislation also was introduced in the U.S. Senate.

The legislation introduced by Reps. Angie Craig, D-Minn., and Adrian Smith, R-Neb., is in response to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia’s decision to vacate a rule finalized by the Trump EPA to allow year-round sales of E15. The court ruled on July 2 the agency didn’t have the authority in the Clean Air Act to grant a Reid vapor pressure waiver to any fuel other than E10.

Original restrictions on the sale of E15 were based on concerns about ozone pollution. The EPA previously restricted the sale of E15 in some regions from June 1 to Sept. 15.

This legislation would permanently extend the 1.0 psi summertime Reid vapor pressure waiver to ethanol blends beyond E10 and eliminate any seasonal restrictions on sales.

Craig and Smith were joined in the introduction of the legislation by Biofuels Caucus co-chairs Reps. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, Rodney Davis, R-Ill., Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., and Mark Pocan, D-Wis. The bill is supported by Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association and the National Corn Growers Association.

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said in order to address climate issues fuels like E15 will need to be made widely available.

“As this country works to address climate change, we must embrace ready solutions that can be implemented today to immediately reduce our carbon emissions in our current auto fleet,” she said in a statement. “This legislation comes at a critical time on the heels of a court ruling that would allow the oil industry to monopolize the gas tank and push aside low-carbon renewable fuels.”

Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, said the legislation is needed to provide “clarity and consistency” for the ethanol industry and gasoline retailers.

National Corn Growers Association President John Linder said, “it’s no surprise oil companies are trying to shut it down” because E15 is “lower in carbon, tailpipe and evaporative emissions, not to mention lower in price.”

In June 2019, the Trump administration revised EPA’s of the RVP waiver to allow for E15.

The Year-Round Fuel Choice Act would extend the waiver to fuel blends containing 10% ethanol or more. E15 currently is approved for use in cars model year 2001 and newer.

Also on Wednesday, companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate. The “Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act” was introduced by Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. The bill also would provide EPA with the authority to approve year-round E15 sales.

The D.C. Circuit Court said in its 19-page opinion on a case brought by refining interests that the waiver does not apply to E15 even though the Trump administration declared the two blends to be substantially similar fuels. The Reid vapor pressure waiver is a measure of the volatility of gasoline.

It’s the second legal setback for the biofuels industry in as many weeks. On June 25 the Supreme Court sided with refiners in a case over small-refinery exemptions. Before Friday’s E15 ruling, ethanol groups were focused on how to curb the impact of the high court’s ruling on refinery exemptions.

Read more from DTN:

“Appeals Court Throws Out E15 Rule,”…

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