U.S. should have ‘discretionary enforcement’ of summer ban if E15 rule delayed: USDA official

Source: By Jarrett Renshaw, Reuters • Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2019

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) – U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky said on Wednesday he is “hopeful” the administration will complete its rule allowing year-round sales of E15 gasoline by summer, but that the government should use “discretionary enforcement” of the E15 summertime ban if there is a delay.

“I see this as a fallback plan in the event we don’t make the deadline,” Censky said at a biofuel conference in Florida.

President Donald Trump announced in October he was directing the Environmental Protection Agency to allow year-round sales of E15, in a win for the powerful corn industry which supplies ethanol. E15 gasoline contains 15 percent ethanol, versus the 10 percent found in most U.S. gasoline.

E15 is currently banned for sale during summer over concerns it contributes to smog in warm temperatures, though recent studies have shown it may not perform much differently than E10 blends in that regard.

The EPA has said it is confident that it can complete its rule allowing year-round E15 sales by this summer, but the recent partial government shutdown in the United States has raised concerns of a time-squeeze because agency workers were furloughed for weeks.

Censky said at the conference that he blamed the potential for a delay to the E15 rule on the shutdown. He added that, if the rule is delayed, it would be up to the EPA to decide how to enforce the summer E15 ban.

Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Andrea Ricci