Ethanol Blog

EPA Approves Year-Round E15 Sales in Kansas City Metro Area

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Environmental Editor
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Drivers in the Kansas City metro will be allowed to purchase E15 year-round. (DTN file photo)

EPA will allow year-round E15 sales in the Kansas City metro area, the agency announced in a news release on Friday.

The Trump administration opened up year-round sales of E15, by granting a Reid vapor pressure, or RVP, waiver. Sales were not allowed in the Kansas City metro because of higher ozone levels in the area.

Now, E15 sales will be allowed year-round in four counties. That includes Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas, and Jackson, Clay and Platte counties in Missouri.

In 1971, the EPA determined the Kansas City area was a non-attainment area for ozone under the Clean Air Act.

National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ground-level ozone, or ozone pollution, set a standard limiting the amount of ozone to be present in outdoor air. The low-RVP fuel requirement was one of the methods Kansas and Missouri used to help reduce ozone levels.

"This announcement is a big step for the Kansas City metro area and a continuation of the hard work that they have done to improve air quality and address environmental issues," said Emily Skor, chief executive officer of Growth Energy.

"Allowing the year-round sale of E15 will help strengthen these clean-energy efforts and give more Kansas citizens access to cleaner, more affordable fuel options. Ethanol's environmental benefits are tangible and will help continue Kansas City's efforts to protect human health and contribute to our country's overall efforts to decarbonize the transportation system."

The Kansas City area has attained all ozone standards since 2005, EPA said in a news release.

"We are thrilled EPA has approved removing low RVP requirements in the Kansas City metro area," said Bill Pracht, chairman of Renew Kansas Biofuels Association.

"This will allow for cleaner, cheaper, Kansas-grown fuel to be purchased year-round in Kansas City, which is great news for the metro's air quality, consumers and the Midwest's agriculture economy as a whole."

Ethanol and gasoline are both low-volatility fuels. When they are mixed, the volatility spikes, but only at blends just below E10. As more ethanol is blended with gasoline, the vapor pressure decreases, which essentially means E15 reduces vapor pressure.

For years, the ethanol industry called on the EPA to equalize the Reid vapor pressure regulations for E10 and E15 during the summer driving season. Because of those requirements, E15 largely was unavailable to some wholesale suppliers and retailers during the summer.

Ethanol increases the RVP, which measures the release of volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere. The RVP for gasoline is the lowest, or most stringent, during the summer months when the weather is hot. Now both E15 and E10 receive an RVP waiver, which keeps the fuel in compliance with RVP requirements year-round.

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