RFA Urges Lower Summer Gasoline RVP

CRANBURY, N.J. (DTN) -- The Renewable Fuels Association sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday urging the agency to require oil refiners to reduce the emissions volatility in gasoline during the summer months to allow for higher blends of ethanol to be added into gasoline.

"Many gasoline retailers have rejected E15 because EPA's current gasoline volatility regulations make it nearly impossible for them to sell E15 to EPA-approved conventional automobiles year-round," said Bob Dinneen, RFA president and CEO. "Most gas stations are unwilling to dedicate storage tanks and dispensing equipment to a fuel that they can only sell for part of the year."

The release of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds from gasoline into the atmosphere is measured by a Reid vapor pressure rating. The higher the ambient temperature, the greater amount of these emissions are released. As a result, the EPA requires gasoline to meet the most stringent RVP requirements during the summer months. Ethanol increases the RVP in gasoline.

Long ago, EPA granted a 1.0-psi waiver for E10, allowing for year-round use of the transportation fuel.

"The 1-psi RVP waiver -- originally provided to expand the production and use of fuel ethanol -- is now having the perverse effect of discouraging greater ethanol use in today's gasoline market, and it is obstructing the successful implementation of important fuel and carbon reduction policies enacted since then, including the Renewable Fuel Standard," the national ethanol trade organization said in their letter.

A lower required RVP in gasoline blendstocks would allow for higher blends of ethanol, eliminate the need for the 1-psi waiver, and clear the way for ethanol concentration blends in gasoline above 10% and 15% to 20% and 25%, said RFA.

The trade association said lowering the RVP in gasoline by 1.0 psi during the summer months would cost $0.006 gallon in refining costs.

"This action would improve air quality, remove arcane barriers to innovation and consumer choice in the retail fuel marketplace, simplify engineering of emissions control systems, and help facilitate compliance with Renewable Fuel Standard requirements. In addition, removing the waiver would not noticeably affect refining costs," RFA said in their letter.