American drivers can begin the summer driving season with new higher blends of ethanol.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler has signed the final action that removes the key regulatory barrier to using gasoline blended with up to 15 percent ethanol (E15) during the summer driving season. It also reforms the renewable identification number (RIN) compliance system under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program to increase transparency and deter price manipulation.
Taken together, EPA said these steps follow through on the Trump Administration’s commitment to responsible environmental protection that promotes energy independence, regulatory reform, and increasing the use of biofuels to give consumers more choices, while supporting American farmers.
“Following President Trump’s directive, today’s action expands the market for biofuels and improves the RFS program by increasing transparency and reducing price manipulation,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “As President Trump promised, EPA is approving the year-round sale of E15 in time for summer driving season, giving drivers more choices at the pump.”
The final rule eliminates the dated barrier that required retailers in many areas of the country to stop selling E15 during the summer months by allowing E15 to receive the same summer volatility adjustment EPA permits for E10.
Higher blends of renewable fuels such as E15 reduce fuel prices for drivers by three to 10 cents per gallon and result in lower emissions, improving air quality and providing greater greenhouse gas reductions. Blending additional ethanol replaces some of the most harmful components in gasoline, and cleaner ethanol results in 43 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline.
With the action, EPA is finalizing regulatory changes to apply the 1-psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver that currently applies to E10 during the summer months so that it applies to E15 as well. This removes a significant barrier to wider sales of E15 in the summer months, thus expanding the market for ethanol in transportation fuel.
E15 is often marketed at the pump as Unleaded88. Until now, E15 could be marketed Sept. 16 through April 30. This final rule from the EPA allows E15 to be sold all year long.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued this statement:
“I appreciate President Trump’s steadfast support for our patriotic farmers and for his commitment to expand the sale of E15 and unleash the full potential of American innovation and ingenuity as we continue to demonstrate our rightful place as the world’s leader in agricultural and energy production. This move to approve the year-round use of E15 in time for the summer driving season provides consumers with more choices when they fill up at the pump, driving demand for our farmers and improving the air we breathe. While the Trump Administration and USDA are expanding the ethanol market in the United States, we continue to fight for more export markets in Brazil, Mexico, China, and other countries across the globe.”
Other comments and reaction:
National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp of Hastings, Neb.:
“Corn farmers have been long-time advocates of higher blends of ethanol such as E15, touting its benefits to both the farmer and the consumer. Farmers are facing some tough times which makes this announcement particularly welcome.
“While corn farmers are immensely grateful that the barrier to year-round E15 has been lifted, we won’t be able to reap the full benefits if EPA continues to allow oil companies to avoid blending biofuels in accordance with the RFS.”
Tim Scheer, farmer from St. Paul and District 5 Director of the Nebraska Corn Board:
“E15 is approved for any vehicle model year 2001 and newer. This makes up over 90 percent of all vehicles on the road today. Additionally, E15 is the most widely tested fuel ever. Well over 4 billion miles have been driven on E15. It’s just a great performing, higher octane fuel that saves consumers money.
“For years, the Nebraska Corn Board has partnered with retail fuel stations to help support infrastructure development. We want stations interested in offering higher blends of ethanol, like E15, to have financial and promotional support to provide more choices to consumers. I see today’s decision by the EPA as a positive step towards making E15 much more widely adopted by retailers and consumers.”
Greg Krissek, CEO for the Kansas Corn Growers Association:
“Ethanol certainly benefits our corn farmers. But the real winners are drivers who will have more access to a lower priced, higher octane, cleaner fuel. The retailers who already offer E15 have already developed a big following of drivers who are enjoying the benefits of this fuel.”
Curt Mether, president of Iowa Corn Growers Association and farmer near Logan:
“Year-round E15 has been a top priority for the Iowa Corn Growers Association and we are happy to see the EPA recognize and follow through with President Trump’s promise on E15. The rule provides consumers uninterrupted access to E15 across the country so they can take advantage of this higher octane, more environmentally friendly fuel.
“We’ve advocated for the passing of E15 for a long time, and it’s satisfying to finally have an end result with a rule ICGA members are passionate about providing market access for homegrown ethanol fuels.”
U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of Senate Agriculture Committee:
“EPA finalizing the year-round sale of E-15 is a win for Nebraska and rural America. For years I’ve fought for a solution like this for our farmers and ethanol producers.
Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.):
“Last year, Nebraska sold more ethanol than ever before. Giving consumers the choice to buy E15 during the summer months, can only be a good thing. This is a huge win for Nebraska.”
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts:
“Increased demand for ethanol will also be a boon to our state’s corn farmers during a time of low commodity prices.”
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds:
“Earlier this year I traveled to Ypsilanti, Michigan and testified in favor of E-15 expansion. I said in my testimony, ‘as the number one producer of corn, ethanol, biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol, we pride ourselves in leading the charge in advancing the renewable fuels industry.’
Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson:
“Today’s announcement is a positive step forward on our country’s renewable fuels policy and is an important one for our farm families who are working through the challenges of a slowed agriculture economy. Anything that expands the markets to ethanol and helps build new demand for Nebraska grown grains is good news.”
Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy:
“The approval of year-round E15 is an incredible milestone for the biofuels industry, and the result of over a decade of hard work by Growth Energy, our members, our congressional champions, and folks all across rural America who made their voices heard. With year-round E15, retailers will have the regulatory certainty they need to offer American drivers a cleaner, more affordable fuel choice throughout the year. This action also means savings for American motorists at the pump and a sorely needed market for farmers who are facing a devastating economic downturn.”
Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA):
“We have always agreed with the President’s assertion that the outdated summertime prohibition on E15 was unnecessary and ridiculous. E15 already has a proven track record for saving drivers money at the pump and reducing emissions, and today’s action will ensure that more Americans are able to enjoy those benefits.”
Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council:
“Year-round E15 opens up a vital new market, where innovators in advanced and cellulosic biofuels will have space to grow alongside American farmers. Administrator Wheeler deserves a lot of credit for getting this done in time for the summer driving season – and for discarding several proposals to tilt market away from those invested in biofuels. This could not have happened without strong support from the Oval Office, and we’re hopeful the president will stay engaged with the EPA. The opportunities created today could easily be destroyed by the next deluge of refinery exemptions.”
Jeff Broin, CEO of POET:
“Nationwide adoption of E15 will drive the production of 7 billion gallons of biofuels, creating additional demand for 2 billion bushels of corn each year, and unlocking new domestic demand for homegrown fuels at a critical time for America’s farmers.”
Mike Lorenz, executive vice president for Sheetz:
“This fix provides major regulatory relief for all retailers seeking to offer lower-cost, higher-octane options at the fuel pump. For too long, retailers had to pay millions to retool and relabel pumps each summer and fall, which creates needless confusion for drivers. Now our customers will have uninterrupted, year-round access to E15 and a chance to save money during the busy summer travel season.”
Jim Talent and Rick Santorum, co-chairs of Americans for Energy Security and Innovation (AESI):
“Competition at the fuel pump means lower prices for consumers, stronger markets for our farmers, and greater energy security for the American people. … With oil prices on the rise and farm income falling, investments in American biofuel production have never been more important. We should seize this opportunity to create more jobs in rural America while taking power away from Iran and other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).”