Iowa Gov. Branstad urges summer sales of E15 ethanol

Source: By Christopher Doering, Des Moines Register • Posted: Wednesday, September 14, 2016

WASHINGTON — Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and six other Midwestern governors are asking the White House to remove a key hurdle that prevents the sale of fuel with 15 percent ethanol during the summer.

In a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy Tuesday, the bipartisan group of governors said fuel with 10 percent ethanol gets a waiver allowing it to be sold from June 1 to Sept. 15. The governors urged the EPA to grant a similar waiver for fuel containing 15 percent ethanol, a move that would lead more fuel stations to carry the blend. They wrote there was no scientific evidence to support the “inequitable” treatment of the two blends.

The EPA does not allow E15 to be sold in the summer in conventional fuel areas without access to a special low volatility gasoline. The reason is the blend would exceed the summer limit on how easily it will change into a vapor.

Currently, more than 300 of the 150,000 fuel stations across the country carry E15.

“EPA’s disparate handling of E10 and E15 with regard to fuel volatility regulation is stifling the widespread adoption of E15 and mid-level ethanol blends,” the lawmakers wrote. “This unbalanced … treatment makes it extraordinarily difficult for retailers in a conventional fuel area to offer E15 year-round as a registered fuel.”

The EPA has approved the sale of motor fuel containing 15 percent ethanol in cars and trucks for vehicles dating back to the 2001 model year.

Iowa, the nation’s largest producer of ethanol, is dependent on the renewable fuel to create jobs, boost corn prices and help the rural economy.

“Many retailers have cited the inability to offer E15 as a registered fuel year-round as the No. 1 barrier to providing consumers with that lower-cost, cleaner-burning option,” said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. “Eliminating this quirk in federal regulation would be a real game changer.”

Contact Christopher Doering at or reach him at Twitter: @cdoering.