Policy Corner: Freedom to Fuel

On Friday, April 28, 2023, President Joe Biden and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan granted an emergency waiver for summertime Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP). This decision ensures that American consumers have the freedom to fuel with E15, made with 15 percent plant-based bioethanol, throughout the summer driving season. The announcement, mirroring one made by the president at POET Bioprocessing – Menlo, Iowa, in 2022, marks the second time the Biden EPA has lifted nonsensical seasonal restrictions on the cleaner, cost-saving biofuel blend.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to protecting Americans from fuel supply challenges resulting from the ongoing war in Ukraine by ensuring consumers have more choices at the pump,” said Administrator Regan. “Allowing E15 sales during the summer driving season will not only help increase fuel supply, but support American farmers, strengthen U.S. energy security, and provide relief to drivers across the country.”

With the war in Ukraine escalating and the Federal Strategic Petroleum Reserve at its lowest inventory in nearly 40 years, conditions were warranted to once again extend access to E15 throughout the
summer of 2023.

“The Biden administration’s decision will keep E15 flowing when Americans need it most,” said POET Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs Joshua Shields. “With tight fuel supplies, rising prices, and poor air quality looming this summer, continued access to E15 puts a cleaner and more affordable fuel option within reach. We’re grateful to President Biden, EPA Administrator Regan, and House and Senate biofuel champions for working together to protect America’s fuel supply, ensure continued savings at the pump, and promote cleaner air for all.”

News of the waiver was welcomed by bipartisan biofuels champions in the House and Senate, who had pressed the Administration and EPA to act to ensure year-round access to E15.

“American biofuels are a homegrown energy solution that support Wisconsin’s farmers and producers, help drive down the price at the pump, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” said Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). “I applaud the Biden administration’s action to ensure cleaner E15 fuel is available this summer, supporting jobs in rural communities and moving our Made in Wisconsin economy forward.”

Senator John Thune (R-SD) remarked, “As I have repeatedly made clear to the Biden administration, biofuels are a common-sense, readily available energy solution that should be utilized to their full potential,” said Thune. “I’m glad the president listened to my repeated calls to extend E15 fuel sales through the summer, which is the right move to give American drivers a lower-cost option at the gas pump. Higher blends of homegrown ethanol enhance our energy security, lower emissions, and provide a vital market for South Dakota farmers.”

Last summer, E15 saved American drivers up to nearly $1 per gallon in some areas, with an average savings of 16 cents per gallon, according to ABF Economics.

“Boosting the nation’s available fuel supply with E15 is better for consumers, the environment, and the economy,” Shields continued. “E15 can help shield Americans from gasoline supply shortages and price spikes. In addition, E15 reduces smog-forming emissions, which can mean cleaner air in congested urban areas most impacted by air pollution. E15 also supports jobs, creates value for family farmers, and drives economic growth in rural communities across America.”

Federal regulations limit the vapor pressure of gasoline during the summer ozone season; however, those rules were drafted before E15 was available. E15 is effectively blocked from the marketplace during the summer months because of an unintended wrinkle in federal law, despite having lower evaporative emissions than standard summertime gasoline. Just last year, research by the University of California Riverside reaffirmed that E15 reduces volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter that contribute to smog formation.

POET thanks President Biden, EPA Administrator Regan, and House and Senate biofuels champions for ensuring access to higher blends of biofuels like cleaner, affordable E15 this summer. We remain committed to working towards a permanent solution that protects consumers' access to E15 year-round.




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