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Bipartisan Group of 31 Federal Lawmakers Ask EPA: Where's E15 Rule for States?

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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A group of 31 members of Congress have asked EPA Administrator Michael Regan and the Office of Management and Budget to answer a states' request to allow year-round E15 sales. (DTN file photo)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) – A bipartisan group of 31 senators and representatives are leaning on the head of the EPA and the Office of Management and Budget to conduct a rulemaking to allow year-round E15 sales in nine Midwest states that made requests for a change in federal regulations last year.

Under the Clean Air Act the EPA was required to respond to the petitions by July 2022 and has yet to do so.

From April to June of 2022, nine states including Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin asked EPA to begin a rulemaking that would place E10 and E15 on equal regulatory footing in the summer months beginning in 2023. OMB reviews typically take up to 60 days to complete.

The Clean Air Act allows governors to notify EPA that they wish to reject the use of the 1-psi waiver for E10 in their states. This would result in the application of the same volatility limitation to both E15 and E10 -- essentially putting E10 and E15 on the same footing.

Currently year-round E15 sales are curtailed by the EPA in high-ozone regions of the country from June to September.

The federal lawmakers said in a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan and OMB Director Shalanda D. Young, that time is running out for making the changes in time for the summer driving season.

"Relying on an annual emergency waiver is not a permanent solution for fuel retailers, consumers, or the environment," the lawmakers said in the letter.

"As Section 211(h)(5)(B) of the Clean Air Act states, the administrator 'shall promulgate regulation' effectuating this action 'not later than 90-days after the date of receipt of a notification from a governor.'

"Therefore, this rulemaking should have been completed in July 2022 and unfortunately, we still have no regulatory certainty for our fuel retailers, fuel blenders, or biofuel producers. On Dec. 7, 2022, the draft rule from EPA, which would approve the governors' request, appeared on the Office of Management and Budget docket."

Attorneys general from seven of the states including Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, South Dakota, Missouri and Wisconsin, asked EPA to take action by the end of January,….

"Higher blends of ethanol like E15 are a common-sense solution to lower the cost for consumers at the gas pump and to lower vehicle emissions," the lawmakers said on Thursday.

"As we gear up for the summer 2023 travel season, we have the production and distribution infrastructure to meet consumer demand for this lower cost and environmentally friendly fuel option. By working swiftly to finalize the governors' requests, you will bring much needed certainty to our corn growers, fuel retailers, and consumers to enjoy the clean-burning, lower cost benefits of year-round E15 through the 2023 summer driving season."

The letter was signed by Sens. Joni Ernst, Tammy Duckworth, Tammy Baldwin, Sherrod Brown, Deb Fischer, Charles Grassley, Amy Klobuchar, Roger Marshall, Pete Ricketts and Tina Smith; along with Reps. Brad Finstad, Ashley Hinson, Mark Alford, Mike Bost, Nikki Budzinski, Angie Craig, Sharice Davids, Tom Emmer, Randy Feenstra and Michelle Fischbach.

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