Regan comments on E15, CCS permitting during Senate hearing

Source: By Erin Voegele , Ethanol Producer Magazine • Posted: Thursday, May 4, 2023

U.S. EPA Administrator Michael Regan fielded questions on the availability E15 and carbon capture and storage (CCS) permitting during a May 3 hearing held by the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations.

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., applauded the U.S. EPA’s April 28 announcement that it will issue emergency waivers allowing E15 sales to continue nationwide during the summer 2023 driving season and asked Regan to support effort to enact a legislative fix allowing permanent access to year-round E15 in the U.S.

“Providing access to E15 helps families save money at the gas pump, it’s better for the environment, and it boosts our nation’s energy security,” Fischer said. “While the emergency fuel waiver is a good thing, I believe we need a permanent fix and I have a bipartisan bill for that—the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act. It ensures nationwide permanent access to E15.” She asked Regan if he would commit to working with her on the legislative effort.

“The president has pledged that biofuels—especially advanced biofuels—would play a part in this economy as we move forward, so I look forward to partnering with you and your staff with technical assistance to be sure that we can make E15 more accessible,” Regan said in response.

Members of the committee also questioned Regan on permitting for Class VI CCS injection wells and states’ efforts to achieve primary regulatory authority (primacy) over Class VI injection wells located within their states. Under current regulations, the EPA is the acting regulatory authority with regard to Class VI wells in all states except those that have been granted primacy. States must apply for primacy and prove that their Class VI regulations are at least as stringent as federal standards. North Dakota became the first state to be granted primacy in 2018, followed by Wyoming in 2020. The EPA on April 28 announced its intent to grant primacy to Louisiana as well.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., noted that at approximately 70 individual permit applications are currently pending with the EPA for Class VI injection wells. She asked Regan what measures the agency is taking to ensure those permits are prioritized and processed in a timely manner, noting that states that have been issued primacy are able to move through the Class VI permitting process much more quickly.

Regan confirmed that Class VI well application are a priority for the EPA. “I think  the president has indicated that CCS is something that this administration supports,” he said. “We’ve learned a lot of lessons from state’s like North Dakota,” he added, noting that Louisiana’s primacy will serve as a model for other states that choose to move forward with that process. He said uniformity ensuring states submit similar applications will allow for expedited processing.

A full replay of the hearing is available on the Senate Appropriations Committee website.