RFA refutes PMAA’s claims in letter to Senate EPW chairman

By Renewable Fuels Association | November 15, 2017

The Petroleum Marketers Association of America’s recent claims that underground storage tanks at fueling stations cannot legally store gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol (E15) are “grossly overstated” and the group’s conclusion that Renewable Fuel Standard volume requirements should be reduced is “completely unfounded,” the Renewable Fuels Association wrote this week to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo. PMAA wrote to the chairman last week, outlining a slew of inaccurate statements about E15 storage.

“Since 1990, all steel tanks and double-walled fiberglass tanks have been approved to store up to 100 percent ethanol,” RFA wrote to Barrasso. “Further, all double-walled fiberglass tanks and piping have been manufactured for storage of 100 percent ethanol since 1990 and 1988, respectively. EPA issued guidance in 2001 allowing tank manufacturers to issue letters to fuel retailers and authorities having jurisdiction stating the compatibility of their tanks with specific ethanol blends. All existing tank manufacturers have issued such letters, and today most installed tanks are compatible with E15,” RFA explained.

Additionally, while potentially there are some tanks still in service that are older than 1990, they are rare and no one is advising retailers use non-compatible equipment, the letter noted. The RFA works with equipment manufacturers and their vendors to ensure compliance with all regulations.

Meanwhile, “[t]he expansion of E15 and E85 has continued at a brisk pace in 2017 with more than 1,000 new stations of both fuels expected by the end of the year” and this rapid expansion is expected to continue into next year, RFA noted.

In its letter, PMAA also claimed the RFS should be capped at no more than 9.7 percent for ethanol blends. “PMAA’s push to cap the RFS at 9.7 percent is severely outdated, and certainly does not reflect today’s market reality. Indeed, the U.S. gasoline pool already contained slightly more than 10.0 percent ethanol on average in 2016. These new stations, and the additional volumes associated with E15 and E85, move the needle even more, further demonstrating that even more ethanol can be blended in the future,” RFA outlined.

“There is no basis whatsoever to PMAA’s claims and there is no legal justification for this group or any other to seek a reduction in ethanol volumes under the RFS,” RFA concluded.

“PMAA’s unfounded claims about E15 storage and the need to limit ethanol under the RFS are just a sad parroting of Big Oil’s false narrative,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “The truth is that E15 can be safely stored at the overwhelming majority of underground storage tanks and there is absolutely no reason why EPA should reduce ethanol volumes as part of the RFS. PMAA would be better served educating their members on how to offer consumers cleaner, cheaper, higher octane fuels that consumers prefer.”