The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on Wednesday to consider a bill that would allow for the sale of E15 fuel year-round. S. 517 was introduced in March and has 18 bipartisan sponsors, including Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
The bill would extend the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) volatility waiver to gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol (E15), allowing retailers to offer E15 without restriction from June 1 to September 15.
Senator Deb Fischer, lead author of the bill….
Committee Chair John Barrasso of Wyoming does not support the legislation…
The RVP control season stems from an outdated regulation that hasn’t been updated since 1990, forcing gas stations to restrict their sales of E15 to flex fuel vehicles only, or remove it from sale altogether between June 1 and September 15.
Brooke Coleman, Executive Director, Advanced Biofuels Business Council, told lawmakers that the legislation fixes “a glitch” in regulations, but he pointed out several things the legislation will NOT do.
A key waiver that was extended to fuels containing zero to 10 percent ethanol in 1990 – in large part because these fuels lowered tailpipe emissions and carbon monoxide – was not extended to E15 simply because higher blends were not yet conceived when the law was written.
Ethanol industry leaders and their supporters in Congress have said the change is needed because there is no scientific reason to leave the restriction in place.
Expanding the E15 market is considered a key to bringing more cellulosic ethanol into the market, as current ethanol production fills the demand for the current E10 market. Coleman told lawmakers that’s a key aspect of S. 517 that his Council supports.
Senator Grassley told reporters on Tuesday that the bill should go to a mark-up next week, although there has been no promises made about whether the legislation would pass this year.
Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., has offered a companion bill in the U.S. House.