Biden Administration Grants Summer E15 Waiver

Biden Administration Grants E15 Emergency Waiver to Continue Summer Sales

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Environmental Editor
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E15 sales will continue through the summer months again this year, beginning on June 1. (DTN file photo by Chris Clayton)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- Consumers will continue to have access to E15 this summer after the Biden administration on Friday granted an emergency waiver.

For the third-consecutive year the Environmental Protection Agency announced an emergency fuel waiver in response to the ongoing effects of the war in Ukraine and the Middle East.

The EPA was running up against a hard May 1 deadline for terminals to be able to continue selling E15 to retailers.

"This action will provide communities with relief at the pump from ongoing market supply issues created by the ongoing war in Ukraine and conflict in the Middle East by increasing fuel supply and offering a variety of gasoline fuel blends from which consumers can choose," EPA said in a news release.

"This waiver will help consumers protect themselves against fuel supply shocks by reducing our reliance on imported fossil fuels, continuing to bolster U.S. energy independence, all while supporting American agriculture and manufacturing. Current estimates indicate that on average, E15 is about 25 cents a gallon cheaper than E10."

In about two-thirds of the country E15 cannot be sold from terminals starting on May 1 and at retail stations starting on June 1.

"Because the RVP of E10 and E15 gasoline used by consumers will be the same, EPA does not expect any impact on air quality from this limited action," the agency said.

"EPA's research has shown no significant impact on evaporative emissions when the 1-psi waiver is extended to E15. With no significant impacts on emissions from cars and trucks, EPA expects consumers can continue to use E15 without concern that its use in the summer will impact air quality."

EPA's emergency fuel waiver will go into effect on May 1 when terminal operators would otherwise no longer be able to sell E15 in the affected regions of the country and will last through May 20 which is the statutory maximum of 20 days.

EPA said it would continue to monitor the gasoline supply with industry and federal partners, and the agency "expects to issue new waivers effectively extending the emergency fuel waiver until such time as the extreme and unusual fuel supply circumstances due to the ongoing war in Ukraine and conflict in the Middle East are no longer present."

In February 2024, the EPA issued a final rule allowing eight Midwest states to permanently sell year-round E15 but delayed the effective date to 2025. The states include Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Brian Jennings said in a statement the industry was grateful the administration listened to the calls for a waiver.

"ACE members pushed EPA to take this action during our D.C. fly-in last month and nearly 200 of our grassroots advocates contacted President Biden and Administrator (Michael) Regan this month in support of an emergency waiver before the start of the 2024 summer driving season," Jennings said in a statement.

"Today's action is an important reminder that higher ethanol blends play a critical part in our nation's energy security as well as contribute significant climate and air quality benefits. A permanent solution to year-round E15 will ensure these benefits aren't left to the whim of ad hoc agency decision making in the future."

Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, said the continued E15 sales will give consumers lower-cost options.

"Given ongoing supply threats stemming from unrest in Ukraine, the Middle East, and Red Sea shipping routes, this waiver will serve as a valuable shield against volatile fuel costs and help more working families benefit from E15, which has been saving drivers 10 to 30 cents per gallon," she said.

Renewable Fuels Association CEO and President Geoff Cooper said the waiver will allow "uninterrupted sales of E15" while extending gasoline supplies, preventing fuel shortages, protecting air quality and reducing carbon emissions.

Cooper said the waiver is needed but pointed to the need for a permanent legislative solution.

"For the environmental and economic benefits of E15 to be fully realized, the marketplace needs long-term certainty," he said.

"It's time for Congress to pass legislation -- like the 'Nationwide Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act' -- that would deliver permanent year-round access for E15 and finally break the cycle of ad hoc, stop-gap emergency waivers."

Minnesota farmer and NCGA President Harold Wolle said in a statement the waiver was "good news for corn growers" and rural Americans who will "benefit economically from this decision" and for consumers who will save money at the pump.

Joshua Shields, Poet LLC's vice president of corporate affairs said that maintaining E15 access would "bring big benefits to drivers as we head into the summer driving season when gas prices typically rise. This decision will play a crucial role in ensuring Americans have the freedom to fuel with a clean, affordable option at the pump when they need it most."

Read more on DTN:

"E15 Year-Round Waiver Granted,"…

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Todd Neeley

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