E15 Waiver Helped Ease Gas Supply Issues

Cindy Zimmerman

This was the year that summer vacation ended early for E15 (15% ethanol fuel) to help offset gasoline supply shortfalls and limit hurricane-related fuel price spikes.

Normally, it would have been this weekend before EPA’s summer restriction on selling E15 in 38 states was lifted, but right after Hurricane Harvey hit, the agency issued emergency fuel waivers allowing the fuel to be sold early, thanks in part to a request by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). Since Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Aug. 25, ethanol prices have averaged a 14% discount to gasoline prices (25 cents per gallon).

“Being able to offer E15 to my customers throughout the South, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic these past two weeks has been incredibly helpful as retailers scramble to fulfill demand,” said Steve Walk, vice president of Business Development for Florida-based Protec Fuel, which supplies ethanol blends to more than 200 retailers. “The Gulf Coast region experienced major damage, with refineries that were knocked out slowly coming back online. There continues to be a shortfall of supply, but thanks to EPA’s actions, I have been able to provide E15 to retailers before Sept. 16. That has made a difference in preventing further price increases and ensuring plentiful supply for consumers.”

Beginning Saturday, Sept. 16, consumers in states not covered by the waivers will have unfettered access to E15, thanks to the end of EPA’s summer volatility control season. “While we are glad EPA responded to the requests of RFA to allow early sales of E15, the summer RVP restriction remains as an unnecessary and irrational impediment to rapid expansion of E15 in the marketplace,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “RFA’s top priority continues to be RVP parity, whether that’s through legislative or administrative action…our regulations must be modernized to allow greater access to that asset when it is most needed.”

E15, Ethanol, Ethanol News, RFA