Eight Midwest States Will See Year-Round Higher Blend Ethanol

The EPA approved year-round sales, but industry groups want a permanent national solution.

February 23, 2024

Drivers in eight Midwestern states will be able to fill up with fuel containing a higher blend of ethanol throughout the year under a final rule announced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), reported The Hill.

The biofuels industry and farming groups, with support of Midwest governors, sought the end of a summertime ban on sales of gasoline blended with 15% ethanol for years.

According to the Hill, the move reflects the importance of ethanol to agriculture. The fuel additive consumes roughly 40% of the nation's corn crop, so higher sales of ethanol could mean greater profits for corn farmers.

The rule, which takes effect in April 2025, will apply in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Those states grow the bulk of the U.S. corn crop and are home to much of the nation's ethanol production. The EPA said it delayed implementation of the new rule because of concerns there wasn't enough supply to meet demand this summer.

"NACS supports giving retailers the choice to sell E15 year-round. Unfortunately, EPA's decision to approve these petitions will balkanize the fuel supply chain by forcing refiners to make special 'boutique' gasoline for these eight states, which will lead to tight fuel supplies and higher costs for consumers," said Paige Anderson, director government relations at NACS. "We are pleased that EPA did include a delay in implementation to 2025 to give time for Congress to pass much needed legislation to permanently allow for the year-round sale of E15 for fuel retailers who choose to sell E15."

Most gasoline sold across the country is blended with 10% ethanol, though 15% blends are becoming increasingly common, especially in the Midwest. E15 summer sales will still not be allowed in most of the country during summer.

Petroleum refiners have opposed the Midwest-specific rules, saying a special blend in one region would increase costs and could lead to tighter fuel supplies, saying a national standard is needed.

NACS has been working with a broad group of stakeholders, representing the oil and gas industry, ethanol and agriculture community and the fuel retailing industry to pass the Nationwide Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (S. 2702), which would grant a permanent one-pound RVP waiver for E15 and nullify these eight petitions.