New York approves E15 sales

By Erin Voegele | November 20, 2019

The New York Department of Agriculture and Markets published a notice of adoption in the New York State Register on Nov. 20 allowing the sales of E15 within the state. The move opens the fourth-largest fuel market in the U.S. to sales of E15.

The process to allow E15 sales in New York has been lengthy. A proposed rule issued by the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets in August 2016 was withdrawn the following month. In a notice posted to the New York State Register Sept. 21, 2016, the department said the proposed rule was withdrawn because “several objections were received to the express terms of the proposed rule.”

The New York Department of Agriculture and Markets published a separate proposed rule to allow E15 sales on July 24, 2019. The proposal was a subject to a 60-day comment period. The Nov. 20 notice of adoption published by the agency notes the department received 47 letters and emails that set forth comments concerning the proposed rule.

According to the notice, Growth Energy, the American Coalition for Ethanol, the Renewable Fuels Association and other groups opposed the prohibition on mid-level blends with more than 15 percent and less than 51 percent ethanol. The department said it did not amend the proposed rule as requested by these commenters. In the notice, the department said it “feels that a gradual introduction of higher ethanol blends will allow consumers and the industry time to adjust to new fuel choices,” but noted it intends “to closely monitor the marketplace and will consider, at some future point, allowing additional blends if the marketplace adapts well to the introduction of E15.”

The agency also received comments from several parties regarding concerns over mis-fueling. In response, the department said that several other states have permitted E15 to be sold and there have been no reported cases of mis-fueling. The department also noted the rule requires service stations to post labels complaint with EPA misfuelling mitigation plan requirements. “The department also declines to revise this proposed amendment because it believes that consumers should have the choice whether or not to use E15,” the department said in the notice.

ACE issued a statement noting it supports part of the E15 rule finalized by the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets, but expressed disappointment that the rule prohibits market access for mid-level blends.  “ACE applauds the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets for a rule recognizing E15 is a clean, safe and low-cost fuel which will give the state’s consumers the option to buy a higher quality product and save money at the pump,” said Brian Jennings, CEO of ACE. “As one of the largest gasoline markets in the U.S., New York’s action to allow E15 sales is a very encouraging step. Nonetheless, we are disappointed New York appears to be following the footsteps of the Environmental Protection Agency in trying to restrict consumer access to mid-level ethanol blends. With nearly one million flexible fuel vehicles on New York roads and approximately 100 stations equipped to offer mid-level blends along with E85, we are concerned the prohibition on blends between 16 and 50 percent ethanol by volume will take options away from retailers and consumers who could benefit from mid-level blends. We appreciate that the Department intends ‘to closely monitor the marketplace and will consider, at some future point, allowing additional blends if the marketplace adapts well to the introduction of E15’ and we look forward to assisting in the development of this market opportunity in the future.”

The RFA praised New York State for the decision to allow E15 sales, calling it a win for the state’s drivers, overall economy and environmental health. “This was a culmination of a long process over several years, and we’re thrilled to see it finally move forward,” said RFA Board Member Tim Winters, president and CEO of Western New York Energy in Medina, one of the leaders of the effort. “E15 is a higher-octane, lower-cost fuel that is not only better for the American consumer’s pocketbook, but also better for our environment. We are thrilled that New York drivers will soon be able to share in these benefits.”

“Today’s announcement is great news for New York drivers and great news for America’s ethanol producers,” added Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the RFA. “Consumers in the Empire State can now enjoy the economic and environmental benefits of E15, and the opening of the state’s fuel market represents a growth opportunity for our industry at a time when new demand opportunities are sorely needed.”

Growth Energy also issued a statement celebrating New York’s move to E15. “It’s exciting to see New York regulators finalize this vital update, and we thank Governor Cuomo and the Department of Agriculture and Markets for giving Empire State motorists access to cleaner, more affordable choices at the pump,” said Emil Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “Over the last five years, Growth Energy has worked continuously with state policymakers to bring higher-octane, lower-emissions biofuel blends to the nation’s fourth largest fuel market. New York has been a pioneer in the climate movement, and their adoption of E15 is consistent with their commitment to a low-carbon transportation future. If New York transitioned from E10 to E15, it would lower carbon emissions by 748,000 tons per year, which is the equivalent of removing approximately 129,400 vehicles from New York’s roads. We look forward to working with retailers across the state to quickly get E15 into the market and establish New York’s continued leadership in low-carbon fuels.”

A full copy of the notice of adoption is available on the New York State Register website.