The comment period for EPA’s proposed rule issued in response to petitions by the governors of several Midwest states to remove the 1-pound per square inch Reid vapor pressure waiver for summer conventional gasoline containing 10% ethanol ended yesterday, almost exactly one year to the day since it was requested. EPA is proposing to remove the 1-psi waiver in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin starting in 2024, leaving this summer in limbo without any plans to allow sales of the less expensive fuel option for most vehicles on the road today.
In formal comments filed yesterday, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) said EPA should implement a regulation allowing the lower-cost, lower-carbon E15 fuel blend to be sold in eight Midwest states this summer, rather than waiting until 2024 as proposed. “There is no economic, environmental, or legal justification for the Agency to defer implementation another year,” wrote RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “If there is any problem with implementing the governors’ requests this summer, it is one of the administration’s own making, which is not a legitimate reason for further delay.”
RFA’s comments focused on three other points:
EPA did not demonstrate that implementing the year-round E15 regulation this summer would cause an insufficient supply of gasoline in the petitioning states; an insufficient supply is the only permissible justification for delaying implementation.
EPA mischaracterizes RFA-commissioned studies from MathPro and ICF that indicate implementation of the governors’ request in 2023 is expected to be manageable.
Any difficulty in implementing the regulation starting this summer, rather than in 2024, would likely be a result of the EPA’s lengthy delay in responding to the governors’ petitions.
The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) also submitted comments to EPA yesterday. CEO Brian Jennings says if EPA chooses not to implement the rule in 2023, the “legally questionable delay to 2024 will force millions of people in conventional gasoline areas of the U.S. to pay much more at the pump during this year’s summer driving season – on the heels of last year’s record-high gasoline prices and continued inflationary pressure on American families.”
With the sense of urgency about the fast-approaching June 1, 2023 summer driving season and market access for E15 in all areas of the country, including conventional gasoline areas, Jennings urged the Agency to take emergency action in ACE’s comments. “Given the pressing need for consumers in conventional gasoline areas of the country to have access to the lowest-cost fuel available to most vehicles on the road this summer, we strongly urge EPA to take emergency steps pursuant to Section 211(c)(4)(C)(ii) to allow E15 for the 2023 summer driving season, similar to the steps taken by yourself and President Biden last year.”
During a House Agriculture Committee hearing this week, EPA Administrator Michael Regan told lawmakers the agency was just not able to get the governors’ request completed as quickly as required. “We took that request very seriously, we tried to ramp it up in a timely fashion to have 2023 included, but we’re probably not going to be able to do that,” Regan said.
“Because there would be a significant disruption in consumer pricing and the like if we move too quickly in 2023,” Regan said. “We feel confident that E15 being sold year round will be ready to go in 2024 – 2023 is a little too soon for that rule making.”