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Senate moves on E15 uncertainty

Farm Progress year-round E15 supported by new bill
YEAR-ROUND CHOICE: A new bill introduced in the Senate would provide a federal standard allowing E15 sales all year. The move would standardize use of the higher-blend fuel, and prevent state-by-state moves that could be more difficult for the fuel industry to manage.
Legislation introduced this week would provide permanent, full access to the higher blend fuel often called Unleaded 88.

There’s confusion at the gas pump and the Senate apparently wants to solve it. Senators Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., along with 13 bipartisan cosponsors introduced the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act Tuesday. The bill would ensure permanent, full-market access to E15.

Earlier this month a wide-ranging list of ag groups were joined by the American Petroleum Institute to push forward the idea of permanent access to E15. The aim was to end confusion in the market due to blend limits that change throughout the year.

In a statement in support of the measure, the National Corn Growers Association Tom Haag, association president, thanked the Senators and their cosponsors for introducing the legislation. “Ethanol saves Americans millions of dollars a year at the pump and is a critical part of our nation’s energy security,” he says.

EPA approved E15 for use in all 2001 and newer vehicles and in 2019 updated the regulation. However a 2021 court decision would have ended year-round market access to E15 last summer without an emergency move by the Biden administration to keep the fuel on the market. The administration’s move increased supply of E15 and has led to lower fuel prices according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The legislation would provide a permanent remedy to the problem on a national basis, even as several Midwest governors have also initiated a state-by-state approach.

Adds Haag: “Following roadblocks and uncertainty on federal actions, governors took matters into their hands this year, and their initiative spurred renewed interest in a nationwide solution.”

NCGA supports EPA moving forward to implement the governors’ notices for 2023 until a national solution can be found, like that proposed in the new legislation.

In the letter sent by ag groups partnered with the American Petroleum Institute, it was noted that “by ensuring uniformity across the nation’s fuel supply chain, federal legislation will provide more flexibility and result in more consistent outcomes than a state-by-state regulatory landscape.”

There is concern over uncertainty regarding use of the higher blend for 2023.

In a statement responding to news of the Fischer-Klobuchar bill, Emily Skor, CEO, Growth Energy, issued a statement of support: “This summer, in the face of record-high gas prices, drivers across the country found savings at the pump of nearly a dollar per gallon thanks to E15 availability. In addition to putting money back in the pockets of American families and enhancing U.S. energy security and independence, E15 offers a lower-carbon fuel choice.”

Wire service reports note Senator Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., is a co-sponsor of the bill, which is significant since his state is a top oil producer.

Goeff Cooper, president and CEO, Renewable Fuels Association, notes that “for the first time in history, ethanol producers, oil refiners, fuel retailers, equipment manufacturers and farmers have all come together to support legislation that ensures American families can choose lower-cost, lower-carbon E15 at the pump every single day of the year.”

Sources: NCGA, Growth Energy, RFA

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