Midwest Governors Call for E-15 solution

Cindy Zimmerman

Seven Midwestern state Governors have sent a joint letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan requesting immediate guidance on how they can continue to sell 15 percent ethanol-blended fuel (E15) year-round without restriction. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds spearheaded the letter which was also signed by the governors of Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The governors’ letter follows a recent D.C. Circuit Court decision that overturned EPA’s 2019 regulation allowing the year-round sale of E15 in conventional gasoline markets. The governors seek guidance from the agency on how best to pursue a specific provision of the Clean Air Act that allows states to establish a “level playing field” for E15.

“In the wake of the court decision, we are exploring all of our options to ensure retailers are able to sell E15 to consumers all year long without interruption,” the letter states. “Fuel marketers and retailers, renewable fuel producers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state governments have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years to expand consumer access to low-cost, clean-burning fuels like E15. Not only does the recent court decision threaten to strand these public and private investments, but it also jeopardizes the progress we’ve made toward cleaning up our fuel supply and reducing emissions from transportation.”

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said, “Ethanol producers and farmers stand with these governors, and we will leave no stone unturned in our pursuit of an open and competitive marketplace for E15 and other lower-cost, lower-carbon ethanol blends. We encourage EPA to expeditiously respond to the governors and open the dialog needed to remove the outdated and absurd regulatory barrier to summertime sales of E15 in these states.”

RFA notes that Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly sent a similar letter to EPA in recent weeks. “This bloc of eight contiguous states consumes approximately 13 billion gallons of gasoline annually. A universal move from E10 to E15 across these states would expand ethanol consumption by nearly 700 million gallons and boost corn demand by 225 million bushels.”

The governors proposed solution to the EPA under the Clean Air Act is a section that states “upon the request from the Governor of a State, the Administrator shall apply volatility limitations to gasoline-ethanol blends that exclude the benefit of the 1-pound per square inch (psi) Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver provided to E10.” Their understanding is that “such a request would result in a volatility limitation of 9 psi for both E10 and E15 in conventional gasoline areas, thereby establishing a level playing field and allowing retailers to use the same gasoline blendstock for both blends all year long.”

“Since 2019, E15 adoption at retail sites has rapidly expanded and extending the 1-psi RVP waiver to E15 only makes sense to reflect the realities of today’s motor fuel market and year-over-year track record of successful growth,” said American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings. “Losing E15 sales next summer would harm everyone through even higher pump prices and greenhouse gas and tailpipe emissions.”

“ACE stands by these Governors as they pursue all options to ensure E15, a clean and safe fuel with lower RVP emissions than E10 and straight gasoline, can still be sold next summer, and urges EPA to respond to this request in a timely manner,” Jennings said.

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