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RFA Presses EPA to Finalize Year-Round E15 in 8 Midwest States

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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The Renewable Fuels Association has asked EPA Administrator Michael Regan to finalize a rule allowing permanent year-round E15 sales in eight Midwest states starting next year. (Photo courtesy Nebraska Ethanol Board)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) – The public comment period closed about three months ago on an EPA proposal to allow year-round E15 sales in eight Midwest states and so far, the agency has yet to finalize the rule.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan sent earlier this week, the Renewable Fuels Association urged the agency to finalize the rule because the clock is ticking for the states to take the necessary steps to provide year-round E15.

On March 1, 2023, the Biden administration announced it was granting petitions for eight states seeking a permanent waiver to allow year-round E15 sales. Those states include Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

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 in those states beginning in 2024.

RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper wrote in the letter to Regan that the statutory deadline for approving the petition was more than one year ago, and the "public has expressed strong support for finalizing approval of the petition."

Cooper calls on EPA to finalize the rule before the end of this summer.

"Three months have passed since EPA's public comment period ended, and more than a year has passed since EPA's statutory deadline to promulgate a final rule approving the governors' petition," Cooper wrote. "And yet, despite strong public support for EPA's proposal, the agency still has not finalized the rule or publicly provided a schedule for doing so. With the summer 2024 ozone control season just nine months away, we urge EPA to publish the final rule approving the governors' petition as soon as possible."

The letter includes an analysis of real-world retail gasoline price data. The data shows virtually no difference between retail prices for lower-volatility gasoline and conventional gasoline in adjacent markets where the two different types of gasoline were sold during the summer 2022 ozone control season. In fact, Cooper said in the letter that in several of the markets lower-volatility gasoline was less expensive than higher-volatility conventional gasoline.

"Along with previous studies already submitted to EPA, this empirical data helps to debunk the exaggerated claims from some petroleum refiners and pipeline companies regarding the economic impacts of the governors' petition," Cooper wrote.

EPA held a public hearing on the proposed rule on March 21, 2023, and accepted written comments through April 20, 2023, according to the RFA.

"Only 18 members of the public testified at the hearing, with 14 expressing support for EPA's proposal to approve the petition," the letter to Regan said.

"Moreover, EPA received only 43 written comments on the proposal (a relatively small number when compared to most EPA proposed rules), with the majority of commenters expressing support for EPA's proposal to approve the petition."

Read more on DTN:

"Biden EPA Grants E15 Waiver for Summer,"…

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