Biofuel groups urge support for legislation benefiting E15 sales

By Erin Voegele | June 13, 2017

A group of 28 biofuel producers and trade associations recently sent a letter to members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, urging them to support a bill that extends the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver to gasoline blends containing more than 10 percent ethanol.

The legislation, titled the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act, or S. 517, was introduced in March. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill June 14.

In 2011, the U.S. EPA approved the use of E15 for use in all model year 2001 and new passenger cars, light trucks and medium-duty vehicles. Under current law, however, sales of the fuel blend are limited during the summer months.

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization explains that current regulations limit summer sales of E15 in many states. This is because laws currently limit evaporative emissions from gasolines in most markets from June 1 through mid-September in order to help prevent ozone formation. In 1990, Congress took action to limit the amount of evaporative emission from vehicle fuel at 9 pounds per square inch (psi) RVP. At that time, Congress enacted a waiver allowing E10 a 1 psi RVP waiver, in recognition of its overall lower emissions profile. That waiver, however, currently applies only to E10 fuels. The Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act aims to extend the waiver to gasoline blends containing more than 10 percent ethanol, including E15.

In the letter, the biofuel groups call the legislation “vital to the advanced biofuels industry,” which it notes is making significant progress in expanding the production of advanced and cellulosic biofuels. In fact, the letter states 33 biorefineries have begun producing cellulosic fuels over the past three years.

“By allowing E15 to be sold year round, more retailers will offer E15 and we can create marked headroom for our next generation fuels,” said the groups in the letter. “While we continue to support the RFS in its entirety, we also recognize that in order to fully unleash the potential of second generation fuels we must find a pathway for consumers to gain access at the pump.”

“Fixing the RVP issue will ensure that E15 can be sold year round in any state where E15 is approved, and gives our advanced and cellulosic fuels an opportunity to compete at the pump,” the groups continued.

The letter is signed by BIO, the Advanced Biofuels Business Council, Aemetis, Biocom, Bio Nebraska, Cellerate, the California Life Sciences Association, Delaware Bio, DSM, Edeniq, Enerkem, Enogen, the Illinois Biotechnology Innovation Organization, ICM, the Iowa Biotech Association, Lallemand Biofuels and Distilled Spirits, Mascoma, Novozymes, Pacific Ethanol, Phytonix, Poet, Poet-DSM, Quad County Corn Processors, Renmatix, South Dakota Biotech, Sweetwater Energy, Syngenta, and White Dog Labs.

A full copy of the letter can be downloaded from the BIO website.