7 governors ask EPA to remove RVP limit on E15

By Erin Voegele | September 13, 2016

On Sept. 13, the governors of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy asking her to remove the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) limit on E15. The letter explains the RVP is a significant regulatory obstacle that is preventing large-scale availability to use of E15 and mid-level ethanol blends.

“EPA’s disparate handling of E10 and E15 with regard to fuel volatility regulation is stifling the widespread adoption of E15 and mid-level ethanol blends,” said the governors in the letter. While E10 currently receives a 1-pound-force per square inch (psi) RVP waiver during the summer blending season, E15 does not. “This inequitable RVP treatment of E10 and E15 has no scientific basis since E15 and higher blends are lower in volatility than E10 when blended with the same base gasoline,” the governors. “We strongly urge you to take immediate action to establish a volatility regime that allows a uniform gasoline blendstock to be suitable for blending both E10 and E15 (and higher blends) year round.”

The letter points out that the U.S. has more than 150,000 fuel stations. More than 300 fuel stations of those stations currently offer E15. “Station owners tell us that the greatest obstacle to offering E15 is the inequitable RVP regulation of E10 and E15,” said the governors in the letter. “This unbalanced RVP treatment makes it extraordinarily difficult for retailers in a conventional fuel area to offer E15 year round as a registered fuel (available to all 2001 and newer light-duty, passenger vehicles).”

According to the governors, ensuring that the same base gasoline may be blended to create E10 and E15 year round is one step that EPA can take immediately to stimulate a rapid increase in E15 consumption, driving ethanol use well beyond the so-called E10 blendwall.

“EPA has the statutory authority to eliminate this unnecessary regulatory hurdle,” said the governors. “We strongly urge you to act now to correct the unfair RVP treatment for E15. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this important issue in greater detail.”

The American Coalition for Ethanol has spoken out to thank the governors for sending the letter to McCarthy. “EPA’s refusal to allow E15, a fuel with fewer evaporative emissions than straight gasoline or E10, to be used from June 1 to September 15 in many parts of the country because of an outdated Reid vapor pressure (RVP) rule is the primary hurdle to more widespread use of the fuel,” said ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings.  “We applaud these seven governors for urging EPA to extend RVP relief to E15 and higher blends and we will continue to ask Congress to provide for a legislative remedy in the face of EPA inaction.”

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association has also spoken out in support of the letter. “We commend Gov. Branstad for his continued leadership on this issue, and for highlighting one of the many barriers to competition in the fuel market,” stated IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Many retailers have cited the inability to offer E15 as a registered fuel year-round as the number one barrier to providing consumers with that lower-cost, cleaner-burning option. Eliminating this quirk in federal regulation would be a real game changer.”

The letter was signed by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, Missouri Gov. Jeremiah Nixon, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, and South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

A full copy of the letter can be downloaded from the ACE website