LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- The return of year-round E15 sales may be around the corner after a group of seven Midwest governors announced they are preparing to ask EPA to create a new rule.
A federal court earlier this year vacated the Trump administration rule that allowed those sales, raising the likelihood there will be no year-round E15 sales beginning next driving season. So far, the Biden administration has not announced action in response to the court action.
In a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan on Thursday, the governors said they are preparing to make a formal request for a new E15 rulemaking and want that rule in place by the next driving season.
"Fuel marketers and retailers, renewable fuel producers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state governments have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years to expand consumer access to low-cost, clean-burning fuels like E15," the governors said in the letter.
"Not only does the recent court decision threaten to strand these public and private investments, but it also jeopardizes the progress we've made toward cleaning up our fuel supply and reducing emissions from transportation."
The letter is signed by Govs. Pete Ricketts, Nebraska; Kristi Noem, South Dakota; Kim Reynolds, Iowa; Tim Walz, Minnesota; Doug Burgum, North Dakota; Michael Parson, Missouri; and Tony Evers, Wisconsin.
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA administrator has authority to write regulations that would put E10 and E15 on equal footing when it comes to volatility regulations, the governors said, "thus re-opening the door to unencumbered, year-round sales of both fuels."
The Clean Air Act establishes that when a governor makes a request, the EPA administrator "shall apply" volatility limitations to ethanol blends that exclude the benefit of the 1-pound per square inch Reid vapor pressure waiver provided to E10.
"If approved, it is our understanding that such a request would result in a volatility limitation of 9 psi for both E10 and E15 in conventional gasoline areas, thereby establishing a level playing field and allowing retailers to use the same gasoline blendstock for both blends all year long," the governors said.
"We understand that some states have already requested and secured approval of such action by the administrator, meaning the recent court decision will not impact the ability of retailers in their states to sell E15 year-round."
The Clean Air Act requires the EPA administrator to promulgate regulations enacting a request within 90 days of receiving notification from a governor.
"Thus, if we were to submit a request for exclusion from the 1-psi ethanol waiver this summer or fall, it is our understanding that the administrator could promulgate rules acting on the request well before the 2022 summer high-ozone season," the governors said.
Though an official request has not been made, the governors ask Regan what EPA needs from the states to launch a rulemaking process.
"The governors should be applauded for working together to proactively seek solutions at the state level, rather than waiting for Washington to clean up yet another regulatory mess created by the oil industry," said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association.
"We encourage EPA to expeditiously respond to the governors and open the dialog needed to remove the outdated and absurd regulatory barrier to summertime sales of E15 in these states."
SENSE OF URGENCY
Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol, said there is a "sense of urgency" to make sure E15 is made available year-round.
"Since 2019, E15 adoption at retail sites has rapidly expanded and extending the 1-psi RVP waiver to E15 only makes sense to reflect the realities of today's motor fuel market and year-over-year track record of successful growth," Jennings said in a statement.
"Losing E15 sales next summer would harm everyone through even higher pump prices and greenhouse gas and tailpipe emissions."
Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, said governors are in a position to take E15 action.
"We all hope either Congress or EPA will take action to preserve nationwide access to E15 on a year-round basis," Shaw said in a news release.
"But if no timely national solution is found, governors have the authority to implement a state-by-state solution. We heartily applaud the Midwest governors for putting oil refiners on notice that their market obstructionism will not stand. The oil refiners may have created this problem, but all 50 governors can fix it."
Read the letter here: https://governor.iowa.gov/…
Read more on DTN:
"Federal Court Denies E15 Rehearing,"
"Ag, Biofuels Groups Want E15 Rehearing,"
"Five Ways to Save Year-Round E15 Sales,"
Todd Neeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter @DTNeeley
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