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Legislators move to continue E15 sales

epa modifies Renewable fuel standard
Bipartisan bill preempts any restrictions on E15 ethanol sales following court ruling that would limit E15 sales in summer months.

Earlier this month, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed an Environmental Protection Agency rule that allowed retailers to sell E15 blends of ethanol year-round by granting a waiver from Reid Vapor Pressure requirements. The court ruled that the EPA had exceeded its authority by lifting summertime restrictions on the sale of ethanol blends. While the court’s ruling has not yet taken effect, Reps. Angie Craig, D-Minn., and Adrian Smith, R-Neb., introduced legislation that would preempt any restrictions by providing a legislative fix to ensure the permanent year-round sale of E15 and higher blend biofuels. 

Craig and Smith, co-chairs of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus, led in the introduction of the Year-Round Fuel Choice Act, bipartisan legislation that would ensure that the EPA can grant waivers to allow E15 and higher blend fuels to be sold at retailers year-round.

The Year-Round Fuel Choice Act of 2021 would make a slight, yet critical change to the Clean Air Act. The change would ensure the EPA can grant Reid Vapor Pressure volatility waivers to allow E15 and higher blend fuels to be sold at fuel retailers all months of the year. The recent D.C. circuit court ruling would hinder retailers’ ability to sell E15 in the summer months, and this bill seeks to fix that by ensuring consumers and retailers can utilize E15 all year by allowing the EPA to grant RVP waivers.

Craig and Smith were joined in leading the introduction of the Year-Round Fuel Choice Act by caucus co-chairs Reps. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, Rodney Davis, R-Ill., Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., and Mark Pocan, D-Wisc. Leading the effort in the Senate are Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

Related: Court overturns ruling allowing for year-round ethanol use

“E15 and higher blend biofuels expand markets for family farmers, support economic growth in rural America and cut down on dangerous pollutants released into the air we breathe,” says Craig. “It’s long past time that the year-round sale of these renewable fuels was made permanent, expanding the market for lower-cost, lower-carbon fuel choices all across America.” 

Smith adds he’s long championed the uninterrupted sale of E15 to provide consumers consistency in their fuel tank and farmers consistency in their production. “Time after time I’ve introduced legislation to emphasize and reinforce EPA’s authority to allow the year-round sale of E15. With the recent D.C. Circuit Court ruling to roll back RVP waivers, it’s imperative we clarify congressional intent once and for all: there is no reason E15 should not have the same regulatory relief as E10,” Smith says. 

The bipartisan Year-Round Fuel Choice Act is supported by Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association and National Corn Growers Association.

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says the Year-Round Fuel Choice Act would make permanent the RVP waiver for summertime use of higher blends of biofuels, ensuring consumers have year-round access to a lower-carbon, lower-emission renewable fuel that saves money at the pump.

“As this country works to address climate change, we must embrace ready solutions that can be implemented today to immediately reduce our carbon emissions in our current auto fleet,” Skor says. “This legislation comes at a critical time on the heels of a court ruling that would allow the oil industry to monopolize the gas tank and push aside low-carbon renewable fuels. We will continue to work with our Congressional champions to see this legislation through, and fight to give Americans an opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment by filling up on earth friendly fuel blends like E15.”

Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, adds the legislative remedy is needed to allow E15 sales to continue unencumbered after the court rejected EPA’s regulatory waiver. 

“The ethanol industry, fuel retailers, and drivers themselves deserve clarity and consistency, and E15 is an American-made low-cost, low-carbon solution our country needs right now,” Cooper says. “Increasing drivers’ access to higher-level blends like E15 remains a top priority for RFA, and we are committed to working with leaders in Congress and the administration to make that a reality.”

John Linder, National Corn Growers Association president, adds, “Corn growers stand behind the many benefits of higher ethanol blends like E15 and support ensuring its continued access to the marketplace on the same terms as standard 10% blends. E15 is lower in carbon, tailpipe and evaporative emissions, not to mention lower in price, so it’s no surprise oil companies are trying to shut it down.”

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