Growth Energy and RFA Backs E15 Year-Round Proposal

Today, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor testified at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) hearing on the proposed rule to implement year-round sales of E15, a fuel blended with 15 percent ethanol. Skor spoke alongside farmers, retailers, and ethanol producers in support of this proposal, pressing EPA to finalize the rule before the June 1 deadline.

In her testimony, Skor emphasized the economic, engine performance, and environmental benefits of E15: “For motorists, the value proposition of E15 is clear. Drivers typically save up to 10 cents per gallon, while E15’s superior octane rating provides better engine performance. The value to our planet is equally compelling. E15 is a cleaner fuel that reduces evaporative emissions and greenhouse gas emissions. It replaces toxic fuel additives associated with cancer, asthma, and smog.”

And stressed how allowing E15 sales year-round will be the shot in the arm rural America needs:

“Eliminating this barrier promises to unlock an estimated 1.3 billion gallons of new annual ethanol demand. Over time, that added demand could grow to seven billion gallons, lending an economic lifeline to rural families…. Across the heartland, more than 200 biofuels plants support their communities, and these plants are under incredible strain. Many have already shut their doors or idled production in recent months. The recent flooding across the Midwest has only exacerbated these tough times, not to mention the 2.6 billion gallons lost to small refinery exemptions.

“With year-round E15, EPA has the opportunity to give American farmers and producers the ability to grow greater demand and expand market access for their homegrown fuel.”

The proposed rule would lift a nearly thirty-year-old limitation on E15, which restricts sales between June 1 and September 15. Today’s hearing is part of the public comment period of the rulemaking process, which ends on April 29. EPA has committed to completing the rulemaking process by June 1, 2019.

RFA Strongly Supports, Urges Quick Action on EPA Proposal to Allow Year-Round E15

In testimony delivered at a public hearing today in Ypsilanti, Mich., RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper urged the agency to finalize the Modifications to Fuel Regulations to Provide Flexibility for E15 proposal ahead of the summer driving season.

In remarks to EPA officials, Cooper said, “We strongly support EPA’s proposal allowing E15 to take advantage of the 1-psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver that currently applies to E10 during the summer months….Extending the 1-psi RVP waiver to E15 during the summer volatility control season will open the marketplace to a fuel that provides consumers higher octane, lower cost, and reduced tailpipe emissions. We firmly endorse EPA’s proposal to interpret section 211(h)(4) of the Clean Air Act as being applicable to ethanol blends containing at least 10 percent ethanol, including E15, and we believe EPA’s justification for this interpretation is well supported by the statutory text and Congressional intent.”

Cooper further commented on E15 made at blender pumps, stating, “RFA encourages EPA to consider a more flexible approach to regulation of E15 made at blender pumps. A majority of the retail dispensers selling E15 today are, in fact, blender pumps that mix E85 and E10 together to make the finished fuel. Under your proposal, E15 made in this manner would not qualify for the 1-psi RVP waiver, even if the finished fuel met applicable sulfur and benzene standards and had volatility of 10.0 psi or less. This seems unreasonable, especially because E15 made from E85 and E10 via a blender pump typically contains just 1 percent natural gasoline.”

In addition, Cooper testified to the RIN (Renewable Identification Number) Reform portion of the proposal, saying “RFA generally opposes any changes that would reduce RFS compliance flexibility, diminish liquidity in the RIN market, give certain parties in the marketplace unfairly advantaged positions, add unnecessary complexity, increase administrative burdens, or impugn the RIN market’s ability to incentivize expansion of renewable fuel consumption. RFA does not believe any of the four main options proposed represent an improvement or enhancement of the current RIN program.”

Cooper further discussed the issue of Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs), noting “while RFS small refinery exemptions are not the explicit subject of this rulemaking or today’s hearing, we feel compelled to remind EPA that continued abuse of the SRE program would significantly undermine the ethanol market expansion intended to result from finally allowing year-round sales of E15.”

In closing, he stated, “We continue to believe it is very important that the Agency sever the RVP and RIN reform provisions into two rulemaking efforts in the event it appears from the comments submitted that the RIN reform provisions might jeopardize or complicate promulgation of the RVP measures before May 31.”