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Twenty Senators ask Trump to not Allow Year-Round E15

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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A group of senators is asking President Donald Trump not to approve year-round E15. (DTN file photo)

A bipartisan group of 20 United States senators is calling on President Donald Trump to reject the idea of allowing the year-round sale of E15, ahead of the president's expected announcement during a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Oct. 9.

In a letter to Trump on Thursday, the senators said they are concerned refinery jobs could be lost if E15 is allowed to be sold year-round.

"A one-sided approach to addressing concerns related to the Renewable Fuel Standard that favors only one industry stakeholder is misguided," the senators wrote. "We are concerned that doing so would do nothing to address the policies impacting refinery jobs, could hurt millions of consumers whose vehicles and equipment are not compatible with higher ethanol blended gasoline, and risk worsening air quality."

Signing the letter were Sens. James Inhofe, R-Okla.; Ben Cardin, D-Md.; John Cornyn, R-Texas, Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; Tom Udall, D-N.M.; Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V.; Joe Manchin, D-W.V.; Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; Roger Wicker, R-Miss.; John Boozman, R-Ark.; Pat Toomey, R-Pa.; Bill Cassidy, R-La.; James Lankford, R-Okla.; Steve Daines, R-Mont.; John Kennedy, R-La.; and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss.

"We are concerned that doing so would do nothing to address the policies impacting refinery jobs, could hurt millions of consumers whose vehicles and equipment are not compatible with higher ethanol blended gasoline, and risk worsening air quality," the letter said. "We write to express our strong opposition to this approach."

Media reports suggest Trump's EPA may be prepared to place restrictions on the biofuels credits markets, as a way to keep down the price of renewable identification numbers, or RINs.

The senators are critical of the science used by the EPA in granting partial waivers for some vehicles to use E15.

"In 2010 and 2011, the EPA issued two partial CAA waivers permitting the use of E15 for model year 2001 and newer light duty motor vehicles," the letter said.

"The research to support the agency's decisions was based on the impact of E15 on emissions control systems, and those results were inappropriately assumed to determine the impact on engine and fuel system durability. Subsequent research revealed that millions of vehicles approved to use E15 by the EPA are susceptible to engine and fuel system damage from E15 fuel. Automobile manufacturers have cautioned consumers not to use the fuel in vehicles not designed to use it. Additionally, consumers, using lawn equipment, motorcycles, boats, and other small engines not approved by EPA to use E15, do not have the benefit of a robust misfueling prevention system."

The senators tell Trump the EPA already had determined it lacked the authority to grant a waiver to E15.

"In conclusion, a decision to grant such a waiver goes against the agency's long standing interpretation as well as a plain reading of the CAA," the letter said. "We urge you to engage in a collaborative and transparent process with robust engagement on any RFS reform efforts."

All 2001 and later model-year vehicles are approved by EPA to use E15, and account for 90% of the vehicles on the road.

The Renewable Fuels Association said there have been zero reported cases of engine damage or consumer misfueling in the seven year E15 has been sold.

In April, Trump told reporters the E15 barrier was "unnecessary and ridiculous." In July, Trump said his administration was "very close" to granting an E15 waiver.

The approval to allow year-round E15 sales would not be a mandate. In addition, even if Trump reiterates his support for the move it still requires EPA to conduct a rulemaking.

Read the senators' letter here: https://www.inhofe.senate.gov/…

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

Follow me on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN

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MarcRauch
10/9/2018 | 6:14 PM CDT
All internal combustion engines, regardless of year, will work fine with E15. If a refinery worker lost his/her job because of increased ethanol use, them him/her to get a job at an ethanol plant. E15 is not sufficient. We should be mandating at least E30.