EPA Looks to Allow Year-Round Sale of E15

The agency does not allow E15 to be sold during the summer because of smog.

September 14, 2022

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is looking to enact a rule as quickly as possible that would allow the year-round sale of higher-ethanol gasoline, or E15, reports Reuters. EPA Administrator Michael Regan said during remarks at the Growth Energy Biofuels Summit that the agency hopes to finalize the rule before next summer.

The agency has been in talks with Midwestern governors after they asked the EPA earlier this year to allow year-round sales of the blend. Eight states have officially asked the EPA for the change, after a successful legal challenge by oil refiners led to a court overturning an earlier Trump-era E15 rule, reports Bloomberg Government.

The selling mandate of summer blends of gasoline during hotter months was enacted to reduce smog in warm weather, but research reportedly does not show that E15 blend produces more smog in relation to E10, which is sold at gas stations year-round.

In April, the White House announced plans to temporarily allow high-ethanol content gasoline to be sold during the summer in an effort to curb high gas prices. The EPA allowed E15 to be sold between June 1 and September 15.

NACS had asked the EPA to authorize the year-round sale of E15 prior to the announcement.

“This common-sense step would provide much-needed price relief at the pump while enhancing America’s energy security and improving gasoline’s emissions characteristics,” wrote NACS, along with NATSO and SIGMA, in a letter to the EPA. “Allowing the year-round sale of E15 in all parts of the country would help enhance supply and lower prices for all American fuel consumers.”

The Clean Air Act allows the governors to ask the EPA if E15 can be sold all year. The EPA is also working with the Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy on biofuel blending requirements beyond 2022, according to Regan.

In June, the EPA announced biofuel blending mandates for 2022 and the prior two years. The 2022 biofuel blending mandate for 2022 is 20.63 billion gallons, and the EPA retroactively set the volume mandates for 2021 at 18.84 billion gallons and for 2020 at 17.13 billion gallons.

The EPA also denied oil refiners waivers to be exempt from the requirements but said it would allow extra time for small refiners to meet their 2020 blending obligations.

In addition to finalizing the volume requirements, the EPA also finalized a regulatory framework to allow “biointermediates” to be included in the RFS program. Biointermediates are feedstocks that have been partially converted at one facility but are then processed into an RFS-qualified biofuel at a separate facility.

Under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the EPA can change the way the RFS is administered. Starting next year, the agency will have more authority to set multi-year mandates and make other changes.

Regan said that the agency understands the requirements are of great importance to the biofuels industry. He also said that the agriculture and the biofuels industry will play a key role in helping President Joe Biden meet climate goals, as the electric vehicle market will not be available immediately, Reuters reports.

NACS filed comments with the EPA on its annual RFS obligations. NACS reiterated that the biofuels obligations must be set so that they can reasonably be absorbed and consumed by the market and avoid hitting the “blend wall.”