Perdue says E15 rule not expected to be complete by June 1

By Erin Voegele | February 27, 2019

UPDATE: Perdue revised his E15 remarks on Feb. 28. The U.S. EPA is now expected to finalize its E15 rule by the June 1 start of the summer driving season. See the full story here.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said today that he does not expect the U.S. EPA to complete its E15 rulemaking before the start of the summer driving season, but added the USDA is encouraging the agency to announce discretionary enforcement of current regulations.

On Feb. 27, Perdue appeared before the House Agriculture Committee to testify on the state of the rural economy and farm bill implementation. At least three members of congress questioned Perdue on E15 and small refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard during the event.

During the hearing, Perdue said that he appreciates Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and the EPA’s progress on year-round E15. “Unfortunately, those rules probably will not be out for the driving season,” he said. Later in the hearing, he indicated that had the government shutdown not occurred, the E15 rule would likely have been completed before the start of the summer driving season. “Now, it won’t happen,” he said, stressing that the USDA is encouraging the EPA announce a policy of discretionary enforcement for fuel stations that want to continue to sell E15 during the summer.

Perdue also addressed questions regarding small refinery waivers and the RFS. He said the USDA has “advocated very strongly” over the issue. While no commitments have been made, he said the UDSA has made its views known via the interagency process. “I feel like I’ve got a gentleman’s understanding that will be policed in a much more aggressive fashion that it had been prior to that,” he said. Perdue also said he believes Wheeler “when he says you’ll see a different type of enforcement going forward, and I trust him in that regard.”

The Renewable Fuels Association has spoken our regarding Perdue’s E15 statements. “We were very disappointed to hear that the regulatory fix allowing year-round E15 may not be completed by the beginning of the summer driving season,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the RFA. “The American ethanol industry and farmers across the country have suffered greatly as a result of former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s efforts to destroy demand for renewable fuels and undermine the effectiveness of the Renewable Fuel Standard. That is why President Trump’s promise last October to allow year-round sales of E15 by this summer was met with such enthusiasm and appreciation, and why the suggestion today that EPA will break that promise represents such a gut punch, if it is indeed true.

“We have no doubt that the so-called ‘RIN reforms’ sought by oil refiners are bogging this rulemaking down,” Cooper continued. “Thus, I reiterate the request we formally made last month to split RIN reform and year-round E15 into two separate rulemakings and expedite the E15 rule. The year-round E15 provisions are straightforward, and there is no reason they could not be promulgated by this summer, particularly as President Trump made the commitment to resolve this red-tape regulatory barrier nearly five months ago. Ethanol plants are shutting their doors and laying off workers, while farmers are facing the worst market conditions in more than a decade—we need EPA to honor the President’s promise to allow year-round E15 now.”

A link to the video of the Feb. 27 hearing featuring Perdue’s testimony is available on the House Agriculture Committee website