The Environmental Protection Agency sent a draft rule to allow for year-round sales of E15 ethanol fuel blends to the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) for review. This is the next step in the regulatory process and for meeting expectations that this rule-making be completed when the summer driving season begins on June 1. A separate rule aims to curb market speculation in biofuel credits.
The proposed rule does not have to be approved by Congress to be finalized, but it does have to be published and put out for public comment. In order for E15 to be available for summer sales, the process has to be completed before June 1.
The National Sorghum Producers has been an advocate for year-round E15 sales and will continue to work with the Administration and other ethanol and corn industry counterparts to clear the way for stores to sell higher blends for the summer drive season, the group said in a statement.
The National Corn Growers Assn. (NCGA) also welcomed the advancement of the rule. “NCGA is pleased to see the process move forward and will be providing input during this important phase,” NCGA president Lynn Chrisp said. “A timely rule is important for the summer driving season, but it’s also important that the rule is done right.”
NCGA will be providing OMB with input to help ensure a strong, clear rule for E15. Following the review and interagency approval, EPA will issue a proposed rule for public comment.
Reuters reported that EPA also has a proposal aimed at preventing hoarding of renewable identification number (RIN) credits and improving monitoring to identify potential market manipulation. This includes requiring quarterly, instead of annual, retirement of sales of RINs and blocking certain non-obligated parties from purchasing RINs. Other precautions include a call for RIN buyers to disclose their holdings to EPA if they acquire large volumes of RINs in excess of a certain threshold – likely 120% of their obligation.