Sales of E15 in Minnesota totaled 6.29 million gallons in June, the first month following elimination of the summertime E15 restriction, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the highest volume ever recorded for the month of June.
The Renewable Fuels Association says the data released Wednesday prove that the marketplace is already responding to President Trump’s elimination of a decades-old regulatory barrier severely limiting the sale of E15 in the summertime. That’s the good news. However, RFA notes, the Minnesota data also show that the wave of Renewable Fuel Standard compliance exemptions granted to oil refiners is suppressing more rapid expansion of E15 and other higher-level ethanol blends.
In recent months, E15 sales volumes per station have been slightly below year-ago levels due to weakened RFS requirements and lower prices for the RFS compliance credits known as RINs. From December 2018 through May 2019, E15 sales per station per day were 13% lower, on average, than the average during the same period the year before. Not coincidentally, RIN prices were three times lower in the period of lower E15 sales.
“These data provide further evidence that EPA’s rampant issuance of RFS small refiner exemptions is suppressing growth in E15 and other higher-level blends,” RFA president and CEO Geoff Cooper said. “The bailouts given to refiners in recent years led to a collapse in the price of RFS compliance credits, which provide the marketplace with a powerful incentive to expand E15 availability. That incentive is greatly diminished when credit values are very low—as is currently the case. This is more proof that EPA’s reckless use of small refinery waivers is resulting in lost demand for ethanol producers.”
Minnesota is the only state that consistently reports sales volumes of E15 and flex fuels like E85. With a volume of 6.29 million gallons in June, the total volume of E15 sold in Minnesota for the first half of 2019 amounted to 36.6 million gallons. On an annualized basis, E15 sales in Minnesota would hit 73 million gallons this year, well above the 59.4 million gallons achieved in 2018.