Ag Policy Blog

Ethanol Groups Defend EPA's E15 Rule

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Ethanol groups on Tuesday highlighted their support for EPA's E15 rule as a case challenging the rule by the petroleum industry was heard before the D.C. Circuit Court. (DTN file photo)

Backers of ethanol on Tuesday made their case for EPA's E15 regulations as the D.C. Circuit Court heard oral arguments in a case brought by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Association and others to throw out EPA's E15 rule.

In a list of intervenors in the case, the American Petroleum Institute and fuel retailers line up against the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and the National Corn Growers Association.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held two hours of oral arguments on the E15 rule. EPA issued its final rule extending the Reid Vapor Pressure volatility waiver to E15, and found that E15 is substantially similar to E10 certification fuel. Retailers sued in 2019 after former President Donald Trump had directed EPA to allow fuel stations to sell 15% ethanol year-round. Before Trump signed an order for EPA to lift the restrictions, E15 was prevented from being sold throughout the summer in some parts of the country.

The American Fuel & Petroleum Association and others in the petroleum industry argue that the language of the Clean Air Act did not allow EPA to expand a waiver of the rule for Reid Vapor Pressure beyond 10%.

In a joint statement on Tuesday, Growth Energy, RFA, and NCGA said, "Oil refiners are simply trying to reclaim more market share by blocking American drivers from year-round access to a more affordable, lower-carbon fuel at the pump. Studies have repeatedly shown that the volatility of E15 is lower than that of E10. Other recent studies find that a nationwide switch from E10 to E15 would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions -- equivalent to removing approximately 3.85 million vehicles from the road. If the refiners had their way and this rule was overturned, both volatile emissions and greenhouse gas emissions would increase. EPA's E15 rule should be upheld because it is consistent with Congressional intent and the Clean Air Act, good for the environment, good for the rural communities that rely on a strong biofuels industry, and good for American drivers who want more options at the pump.”

Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition of Ethanol, also issued a statement supporting EPA's regulation allowing year-round E15.

“EPA's interpretation of the Clean Air Act holding E15 to the same gasoline volatility standards as E10 is consistent with Congressional intent and reflects the realities of today's motor fuel market. EPA's ruling in 2019 cut the RVP red tape allowing more retailers to add the blend to their fuel slate and offer their customers a low carbon fuel with higher octane at a lower cost. We trust the D.C. Circuit Court will see through the oil industry's opposition to EPA's rule as a not-so-veiled attempt to cling to their status-quo market share.”

A recording of Tuesday's court hearing can be found at https://www.youtube.com/…

An opinion from the D.C. Circuit Court will likely come out sometime this summer.

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

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