ACE policy update highlights RVP push

By Lisa Gibson | June 06, 2017

The American Coalition for Ethanol held a webinar June 6 to update the ethanol industry on policy issues a few months into Donald Trump’s presidency. Not surprisingly, Reid vapor pressure ranked at the top of the list of barriers, as June 1 marked the seasonal tightening of restrictions from which E15 is not allowed a waiver by the U.S. EPA.

In 2011, the EPA approved the use of E15 in 2001 and newer vehicles, but the agency has not granted E15 the 1-pound per square inch (psi) waiver available to E10 blends. The summer ozone control season continues through Sept. 15, requiring two-thirds of the U.S. gasoline market to temporarily discontinue sales of E15. Jonathon Lehman, ACE legislative counsel, outlined two ways to fix the issue: Congress, or directly through the EPA. The Consumer and Retailer Choice Act in the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee might not have the votes if a small group of crucial members don’t drum up more support, Lehman said. “It’s not an easy slam dunk. It’s full of pitfalls.” But the EPA has the authority to grant a waiver without legislation. Lehman and Brian Jennings, executive vice president of ACE, said it should.

Other policy issues at the top of the list for ACE include ongoing Renewable Fuel Standard litigation and reform talks, updates to data on ethanol’s lifecycle carbon footprint, and simplification of the certification process for high-octane, high-ethanol blends.

On a positive note, Trump’s reopening of the mid-term evaluations of 2022 to 2025 emissions standards will allow the ethanol industry to push for higher octane, with the ultimate goal of convincing automakers to petition the EPA for a test fuel in the E25 to E30 range, Lehman said. The final decision on the emissions standards will come in April.