House, Senate bills aim to ensure continued availability of E15

By Erin Voegele | July 14, 2021

Less than two weeks after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the U.S. EPA’s 2019 rule allowing year-round sales of E15, federal lawmakers are taking action to ensure the continued year-round availability of the fuel blend.

Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., on July 14 reintroduced the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act. The bipartisan bill aims to extend the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) volatility waiver to fuel blends that can contain more than 10 percent ethanol. The legislation also increases market access and continues to allow retailers across the U.S. to sell E15 and other higher-ethanol fuel blends year-round.

In addition to Grassley, Fischer and Klobuchar, the bill is also cosponsored by Sens. John Thune, R-S.D.; Joni Ernst. R-Iowa; Mike Rounds, R-S.D.; Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; Roger Marshall, R-Kan.; Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Tina Smith, D-Minn.; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.

“The previous administration made the right call to allow E-15 to be sold year-round and allow consumers to make their own decision about what kind of fuel they want to choose at the pump. Banning this higher blend of ethanol for part of the year never made any sense,” Grassley said. “Ethanol is good for the economy, good for national security and good for the environment. It’s time to give some certainty to our farmers and producers.”

Also on July 14, Reps. Angie Craig, D-Minn., and Adrian Smith, R-Neb., led co-chairs of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus in introducing the Year-Round Fuel Choice Act, bipartisan legislation that would ensure that the EPA can grant waivers to allow E15 and higher blends of fuel to be sold by retailers year-round.

Craig and Smith were joined in leading the introduction of the Year-Round Fuel Choice Act by caucus co-chairs Reps. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa; Rodney Davis., R-Ill.; Dusty Johnson, R- S.D.; and Mark Pocan, D-Wisc. Reps. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa; Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb.; Jason Smith, R-Mo.; Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.; Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa; Ron Estes, R-Kan.; Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo.; Mike Bost, R-Ill.; Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa; Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn.; Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo.; Jim Baird, R-Ind.; James Comer, R-Ky.; Michelle Fishbach, R-Minn.; Ron Kind, D-Wisc.; and Darin LaHood, R-Ill., also cosponsored the bill.

“E15 and higher blend biofuels expand markets for family farmers, support economic growth in rural America and cut down on dangerous pollutants released into the air we breathe,” Craig said. “It’s long past time that the year-round sale of these renewable fuels was made permanent, expanding the market for lower-cost, lower-carbon fuel choices all across America. I’m proud to work with Representative Smith on this critical legislation to support our biofuels producers and family farmers, while expanding options at the pump for consumers across the country.”

Representatives of the ethanol industry have spoken out in support of both bills.

The American Coalition for Ethanol thanked the Klobuchar, Fischer, Craig and their colleagues for introducing the bills. “Since 2019, E15 adoption at retail sites has almost doubled with nearly 2500 locations and extending the 1-psi RVP waiver to E15 only makes sense to reflect the realities of today’s motor fuel market and year-over-year track record of successful growth,” said Brian Jennings, CEO of ACE. “Without this legislation, it is possible to lose E15 sales next summer which would harm everyone through higher pump prices and greenhouse gas and tailpipe emissions.

“ACE looks forward to continuing to help foster bipartisan support for this legislation while exploring other options to ensure E15, a clean and safe fuel with lower RVP emissions than E10 and straight gasoline, can still be sold next summer,” Jennings continued.

Growth Energy has also announced support for both the House and Senate bills. “We’re grateful our congressional champions acted swiftly on behalf of farmers, biofuel producers, and drivers nationwide to introduce the Year-Round Fuel Choice Act,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “The Year-Round Fuel Choice Act would make permanent the RVP waiver for summertime use of higher blends of biofuels, ensuring consumers have year-round access to a lower-carbon, lower-emission renewable fuel that saves money at the pump. 

“As this country works to address climate change, we must embrace ready solutions that can be implemented today to immediately reduce our carbon emissions in our current auto fleet,” Skor added. “This legislation comes at a critical time on the heels of a court ruling that would allow the oil industry to monopolize the gas tank and push aside low-carbon renewable fuels. We will continue to work with our congressional champions to see this legislation through, and fight to give Americans an opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment by filling up on earth friendly fuel blends like E15.” 

The Renewable Fuels Association thanked congressional champions for introducing the E15 bills. “We thank these leaders for their quick work following on the July 2 ruling of the D.C. Circuit,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the RFA. “These bills will make it abundantly clear that the intent of Congress is to allow the year-round use of lower-cost, lower-carbon, American-made E15.  Increasing drivers’ access to higher-level blends like E15 remains a top priority for RFA, and we are committed to working with these leaders in Congress, and the Biden administration, to make that a reality.”