RFA: Fuel volatility regulations continue to stifle E15

By Renewable Fuels Association | September 11, 2014

The Renewable Fuels Association implored Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. EPA, to immediately address disparate fuel volatility regulations that hinder the sale and expansion of E15. In a letter to McCarthy, RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen wrote, “EPA’s failure to put E15 and E10 on equal footing with regard to volatility requirements has been a substantial roadblock to broader introduction of E15.”

Because E15 is not granted the same 1 psi Reid Vapor Pressure volatility waiver that is afforded to E10, most retailers are, according to the letter, “…faced with a hopeless decision every spring: stop selling E15 during the summer volatility control season, or secure the appropriate low-RVP gasoline blendstock. For most retailers, neither of these options are acceptable business decisions.”

Commenting further on the issue, Dinneen stated, “EPA continues to handicap market opportunities for E15 by effectively making it a seasonal fuel. Understandably, retailers and marketers are hesitant to invest in a fuel that can only be offered part of the year. Our biggest frustration is that there is simply no legal or environmental justification for EPA’s unequal volatility treatment of E10 and E15. If the Administration is serious about addressing greenhouse gas emissions and keeping gas prices in check, it should immediately correct this gross inequality.”

Echoing requests submitted to EPA in 2010 and 2012, RFA again called on the Agency to be “consistent in its treatment of RVP requirements for all ethanol blends up to, and including, E15” noting that “Retailers who have chosen not to offer E15 consistently cite EPA’s unbalanced application of the 1 psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) volatility waiver as the primary factor in their decision.”

RFA points to the larger implications of the RVP restriction, stating, “Slow market adoption of E15 has unnecessarily complicated compliance with the renewable fuel standard (RFS) and led the agency to embrace the oil industry’s ‘blend wall’ concept in the proposed rule for 2014 Renewable Volume Obligations.”

“The bottom line is that E10 and E15 should be treated consistently in the marketplace with regard to RVP….There is simply no sound technical justification, no air quality benefit, and no economic rationale for denying equal RVP treatment for E15 and E10.”