New York State Could Help Clear the Air by Approving Sale of E15

Source: By Jessie Stolark, EESI • Posted: Monday, February 25, 2019

On February 21, EESI submitted comments to New York State supporting the use of E15 in the state to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gases. New York is one of seven states that expressly prohibit the sale of E15 (15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gasoline), but it is currently considering adopting rules that would allow the sale of the fuel alongside E10 and other fuel blends.

In its comments, EESI supported the move, citing a growing body of peer-reviewed research that supports using higher levels of ethanol in the fuel supply. While mid-level ethanol blends such as E30 allow for the greatest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants from gasoline-powered engines, E15 is a step in the right direction, offering an improvement in emissions, price and performance over regular E10, today’s base fuel.

According to the ethanol trade industry association, Growth Energy, E15 is currently sold at more than 1,700 stations nationwide. If the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moves to lift restrictions on the year-round sale of E15 this year, it is estimated that tens of thousands of stations would move to offer the fuel. According to the Energy Information Administration, New York State is the fifth-largest consumer of gasoline in the United States, though it has the lowest per-capita consumption.

In its comments, EESI focused on the health and environmental impacts of E15. EESI summarized the scientific literature on the effects of increasing the ethanol content from E10 to E15. In general, E15 use would:

  • Reduce harmful volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions,
  • Displace cancer-causing emissions,
  • Reduce smog-forming potential,
  • Cut greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the EPA, 45 million Americans live within 300 feet of a major roadway, airport, or railway and so are particularly vulnerable to transportation emissions. While electrification of the transportation sector ultimately represents the greatest potential reduction in both air pollutants and greenhouse gases, taking immediate steps to improve air quality, such as utilizing higher blends of biofuels, will have a positive impact on urban air quality, especially for those most vulnerable to the impacts of air pollutants.

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