Ethanol Blog

New York may Usher in E15

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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The state of New York has opened the door to sell E15 with a newly proposed rule that would allow the fuel to be sold and used in vehicle models from 2001 and newer. That rule would follow U.S. Environmental Protection Agency actions in recent years to approve E15 in vehicles 2001 and newer.

The sale of E15 in New York would be considered a big coup for the ethanol industry and farmers in the United States, as the state represents the fourth-largest gasoline market in the country at about 5.5 billion gallons.

Currently there are two corn-based ethanol plants in New York with a total production capacity of about 135 million gallons. Current state law essentially keeps E15 from being sold in New York.

So how much corn ethanol could potentially find its way into gasoline tanks in the state if E15 is allowed in the state's 5.5 billion gallons of gasoline?

For argument's sake, let's say every gallon of gasoline blended in New York contained 15% ethanol -- which would not necessarily be the case -- then the state would create a demand for about 825 million gallons of ethanol. Now, let's say corn ethanol plants on average produce about 2.8 gallons for every bushel of corn. In that scenario, E15 would create a corn demand of about 295 million bushels in New York.

In a news release Tuesday, ethanol interest group Growth Energy said the proposed rule came about as a result of efforts made by the group and the nation's largest ethanol producer Sioux Falls, S.D.,-based Poet, to convince the state of E15's merits.

Growth Energy Chief Executive Officer Emily Skor offered the following statement Tuesday:

"This proposal marks a major victory for consumers, who would gain access to cleaner, more affordable choices at the pump. Biofuel blends, like E15, are already used on the racetrack at Watkins Glen, and if the proposal is approved, drivers will be able to experience the same economic, environmental and performance-enhancing benefits. We appreciate the department's work on this regulation to reflect federal approval of E15 and we look forward to working with retailers across the Empire State to quickly get E15 into the market."

Timothy Winters, chief financial officer of the 50-million-gallon corn ethanol producer Western New York Energy, said in a statement, "E15 represents an exciting opportunity for New Yorkers to select affordable, clean-burning biofuels produced at plants like ours. Back in 2004, we set out with a mission to harness the power of western New York's renewable resources to provide consumers with a high-octane, earth-friendly option at the pump. With higher blends like E15 in the marketplace, we can continue to help drivers save money and improve the quality of the air we all breathe, all while creating jobs and growing our local economy."

Skor said E15 already is approved by the EPA for use in 90% of vehicles on the road today. Opponents of E15 have said while EPA approves the fuel for use in most vehicles, not all car companies warranty their cars for E15 use.

An analysis completed by the Renewable Fuels Association in December 2015, however, found the number of new cars warrantied for E15 was on the uptick, http://bit.ly/…. That analysis found 70% of new vehicles were explicitly warrantied for E15. That was an increase from 60% in 2015.

"By increasing biofuel blends, we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil, cut carbon emissions, and limit the need for toxic gasoline additives associated with cancer, water contamination and smog," she said in a statement. "New York state has long been a pioneer in clean energy, and this proposed regulation change is one more step toward sustainable economic growth for New York communities, farmers and drivers, as well as a fair and open fuel marketplace."

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN

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