Policy Corner: The Road to Summer E15

Summer driving season is almost here, and American consumers can rest easy knowing they’ll be able to save money at the pump by using higher blends of biofuels like E15.

On April 19, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an emergency Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver, ensuring uninterrupted summertime access to E15.

In the EPA’s press release for the 2024 wavier, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said, “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. 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.”

POET commended the EPA for extending summertime access to E15.

“Maintaining access to E15 will bring big benefits to drivers as we head into the summer driving season when gas prices typically rise,” said POET Vice President of Corporate Affairs Joshua Shields. “This decision will play a crucial role in ensuring Americans have the freedom to fuel with a clean, affordable option at the pump when they need it most.

“With conflicts overseas impacting global fuel supplies and gas prices here at home, it makes sense to ensure access to higher blends of American-made bioethanol is maintained. This simple move can help shield consumers from gasoline supply shortages and price spikes while reducing smog-forming emissions, especially in congested urban areas. In fact, E15 has lower evaporative emissions than standard summertime gasoline, which can mean fewer negative health effects from air pollution.”

Growth Energy, the largest biofuels trade association in the country, praised the waiver as well. “We commend EPA Administrator Regan, Secretary Vilsack, and the Biden administration for easing pain at the pump this summer by protecting access to lower-carbon, more affordable E15,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor in a press release. “Given ongoing supply threats stemming from unrest in Ukraine, the Middle East, and Red Sea shipping routes, this waiver will serve as a valuable shield against volatile fuel costs and help more working families benefit from E15, which has been saving drivers 10 to 30 cents per gallon.”

The history of RVP waivers is complex. Per an amendment to the Clean Air Act in 1990, Congress authorized that fuel with 10% bioethanol (E10) could be sold year-round to encourage the use of bioethanol-blended fuels. This was allowed under an RVP waiver. However, the waiver for E10 predated higher blends like E15. Though E15 has a lower cost, lower emissions, and a lower RVP than E10, it does not qualify for the RVP waiver, which means without action, it cannot be sold in the majority of states between June 1st and September 15th.

This is the third year the administration has issued these emergency waivers to help shore up the domestic fuel supply and enhance our energy security in the face of global conflicts and volatile international petroleum markets.

However, the need for a more permanent, year-round solution is clear.

“Of course, the push doesn’t end with this summer waiver; what Americans really need and deserve is permanent, year-round access to E15, which is why we continue to advocate for this commonsense policy change along with a large coalition of fuel retailers and other producers, processors, and distributors,” said Shields.




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