The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week approved the year-round use of E15, a fuel blended with 15% ethanol.
The approval was granted in a finalised rule that extended the 1-psi Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver during the summer to allow the sale of the fuel throughout the year.
Biofuel industry associations the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) and Growth Energy both welcomed the approval, noting that the decision will benefit drivers and farmers across the US.
“EPA’s rule means US retailers finally have the opportunity to offer E15 to their customers year round as the peak summer driving season kicks off this weekend,” said ACE CEO Brian Jennings. “We’re grateful EPA kept the President’s promise to get the rulemaking done on time and we will work to ensure retailers understand their hands are no longer tied by red tape preventing them from offering a lower priced, higher octane E15 fuel to their customers all year starting this summer. For the ethanol industry and farmers, this means greater market access — more ethanol demand over the long term as additional retailers begin offering E15.”
Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor reiterated Jenning’s comments, added: ““We are grateful to President Trump for delivering on his promise to unleash the power of E15 all year-long. 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. We estimate this one change will generate over a billion new gallons of ethanol demand in the next five years. Over time, demand for E15 could boost the market for American grain by an additional two billion bushels.
“We appreciate the EPA’s efforts to get this rule over the finish line in time for the summer driving season. We will continue our work with the agency to ensure that the market for biofuels remains strong, and that means upholding the targets set by Congress and ensuring American drivers continue to benefit from true competition at the pump.”
RIN reforms rejected
In its decision, the EPA also modified the Renewable Identification Number (RIN) credit trading. “We’re also grateful EPA considered the comments ACE and many others made in opposition to sweeping and unnecessary reforms to the way RIN credits are handled under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS),” Jennings added. “Had EPA gone forward with the so-called RIN reforms, it would have dulled the upside benefit of E15 year-round.
“Finally, speaking of dulling the upside benefit of E15 year-round, as we have repeatedly cautioned, EPA’s ongoing mismanagement of the RFS through blanket small refinery exemptions (SREs) needs to stop. The net effect of E15 year-round with 2.61 billion gallons worth of SREs that aren’t reallocated means we’re still in the hole when it comes to ethanol demand through the RFS. EPA is currently sitting on nearly 40 requests for refinery waivers from the 2018 compliance year. We discourage EPA from erasing any benefit of today’s rule by granting more waivers at a time when rural America can least afford it.”