RFA: Hurricane Harvey fuel waiver should relax E15 restrictions

By Renewable Fuels Association | August 31, 2017

In a letter Aug. 31 to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, the Renewable Fuels Association thanked the agency for its Aug. 30 waiver in 12 states and the District of Columbia of certain fuel regulations due to the fuel supply emergency caused by Hurricane Harvey. The waiver, which relaxes the RVP requirement such that E15 (15 percent ethanol) may be sold immediately in conventional gasoline areas in the covered states, has “the potential to provide much-needed relief to consumers.” However, the full potential of the waiver “can only be realized if EPA relaxes certain additional regulatory requirements related to the sale of E15,” RFA explained.

“Retailers’ ability to utilize E15 immediately will require confirmation from EPA that certain regulatory requirements will not become obstacles to the sale of E15 blends during this period. Specifically, RFA requests that EPA clarify that its waiver includes the requirements in 40 C.F.R. Part 80, Subpart N. These requirements include obligations such as EPA pre-approval of Misfueling Mitigation Plans (MMPs) prior to selling the fuel. Compliance with such requirements would make it virtually impossible for E15 blends to help alleviate the current supply shortages,” RFA explained in its letter.

“Alternatively, RFA asks that EPA exercise its discretion to provide assurance to retailers that it will agree to not take enforcement action against retailers that fail to obtain a pre-approved MMP or comply with the other regulatory requirements in Subpart N in the subject states and D.C. through Sept. 15, 2017. As of this morning, ethanol is priced 50 cents per gallon (roughly 25 percent) below gasoline blendstock, and ethanol stocks are ample in both the Gulf Coast and East Coast regions, this exercise of EPA’s enforcement discretion would enable blenders and retailers in the 12 states and Washington D.C. to maximize E15 blending, delivering further relief to tens of millions of American consumers in these areas,” the letter added.

“The impacts of Hurricane Harvey will soon be felt along the Atlantic Coast as refinery closures and pipeline disruptions are beginning to affect the region’s gasoline supply,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “The U.S. ethanol industry has ample supplies already stored throughout the country and our supply is not dependent upon pipelines. Ethanol is also about 50 cents per gallon less expensive than gasoline at the terminal today, and the spread is widening every hour. If marketers have the option to begin offering E15 immediately, without having to wait for months while EPA reviews and approves Misfueling Mitigation Plans and other regulatory hurdles to E15’s commercial availability, consumers will be given an important relief valve to gasoline supply disruptions. This only makes sense,” he added.

To view a copy of RFA’s letter, click here