Senate hearing scheduled on bill to extend RVP waiver to E15

By Erin Voegele | June 12, 2017

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works is scheduled to hold a full committee hearing June 14 on legislation that aims to extend the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver to gasoline blends containing more than 10 percent ethanol.

The legislation, titled “The Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act,” or S. 517, was introduced on March 2 by Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb. To date, 17 senators have signed on to cosponsor the legislation, including Sens. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; John Hoven, R-N.D.; Ben Sasse, R-Neb.; Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc.; John Thune, R-S.D.; Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Richard Durbin, D-Ill.; Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Mike Rounds, R-S.D.; Al Franken, D-Minn.; and Jerry Moran, R-Kan.

The hearing is expected to feature testimony from Brook Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council; Jonathan Lewis, senior counsel at the Clean Air Task Force’ Mirk Lorenz, executive vice president of Sheetz Inc.; Todd Teske, chairman, president and CEO of Briggs & Stratton Corp.; and Janet Yanowitz, principal engineer at Ecoengineering Inc.

In 2011, the U.S. EPA approved the use of E15 for use in all model year 2001 and new passenger cars, light trucks and medium-duty vehicles. Under current law, however, sales of the fuel blend are limited during the summer months.

Regulations currently limit evaporative emissions from gasoline in most markets from June 1 through mid-September in order to help prevent ozone formation. Clean Air Act amendments signed into law in 1990 establish a RVP waiver for E10, allowing that ethanol blend to be sold during the summer months. The exemption, however, does not currently extend to fuel blends with more than 10 percent ethanol. The Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act aims to extend the RVP waiver to ethanol blends with more than 10 percent ethanol, including E15.

According to the Biotechnology Industry Organization, summertime use of E15 over the next decade could save at least 7 million to 10.4 million tons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the equivalent of taking 1.4 million to 2.2 million cars off the road. BIO also noted that if this legislation encourages more fuel retailers to offer higher ethanol blends, the GHG emissions savings will increase even further.

Additional information on the hearing is available on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works website