Summertime restrictions on E15 end Sept. 16

By Erin Voegele | September 17, 2018

The summertime restriction of E15 sales lifted on Sept. 16, allowing customers across the nation to once again access the fuel blend. Representatives of the ethanol industry are working to ensure barriers to year-round sales will be lifted soon.

Current regulations prevent E15 from being sold in most U.S. markets during the summer months. While the EPA approved the use of E15 in model year 2001 and newer vehicles in 2011, the agency has not extended the 1-pound per square inch Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver to blends above E10. As a result, E15 sales are effectively banned from June 1 through Sept. 15. RVP relief for ethanol blends above E10 would allow E15 to be sold year-round.

While President Trump has repeatedly expressed support for year-round E15 sales, the EPA has so far failed to take action RVP relief. During an appearance in Iowa in late July, Trump again stressed his support for E15, noting his administration is “very close” to issuing an RVP waiver for ethanol blends above E10.

On Sept. 14, Growth Energy, the American Coalition for Ethanol and Renewable Fuels Association issued statements announcing the end of this year’s summertime restrictions on E15 sales and advocating for RVP relief.

Growth Energy said it is continuing to press the administration and members of Congress to make their voices heard and remove the seasonal restrictions on E15. As part of its campaign, Growth Energy is launching a bus tour to rally support for quick action on RVP relief for E15. Over the next few months, the bus will appear at Midwest gatherings.

“Rural America is counting on the Trump Administration to open up new domestic markets for homegrown fuel so we can have cleaner, more affordable options at the pump,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “Nationwide adoption of E15 could drive billions of gallons of new ethanol demand, creating a much-needed market for two billion bushels of American corn. We’re calling on policymakers to make certain that 2018 was the last summer that drivers are denied a chance to save money on fuel while supporting local farmers. Our bus tour will help spread the message at fairs, campaign rallies, and community events across the heartland that rural America wants action on E15, and we want it now.”

ACE marked the close of the summertime restriction on E15 by sharing the story of Ohio fuel retailer Glenn Badenhop, owner of the American Freedom Energy station in Liberty Center, Ohio. Badenhop said he will once again offer E15 to his customers this fall.

“My customers loved it. It's clean, American, higher octane, costs less than regular, and it’s made by their friends and neighbors. What’s not to like?” Badenhop said. “We're going to put E15 back in and trust the President will make the change he's promised to make, so we don’t have to mess with this again next year. None of us want a bunch of drivers angry when gas prices go up over some old, useless federal regulation again next summer.”

“Ethanol costs almost a dollar less than gasoline right now, even without the RIN [Renewable Identification Number] value. That gives E15 and flex fuel retailers a huge advantage over their competition,” said Ron Lamberty, senior vice president at ACE. “We know it’s making a dent in the market, because the Big Oil lobby has ramped up its misinformation campaign to keep E15 barriers in place. Just like when E10 went nationwide, oil companies know drivers will fill up with E15 to save some money, realize Big Oil's ghost stories aren’t true, and keep using ethanol blended fuel.”

The RFA noted EPA’s restriction on E15 sales is not only preventing customers from accessing the fuel blend during the summer months, but is also slowing down the expansion of higher ethanol blend infrastructure in the marketplace. Some retailers remain hesitant to invest in the infrastructure to distribute E15 that cannot be sold year-round.

“EPA’s nonsensical restriction on E15 is preventing consumers from saving money at the pump precisely when prices are typically at their highest and is hamstringing further expansion in the marketplace,” Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA. “President Trump has repeatedly said he wants the summertime E15 ban to end, yet inexplicably EPA has been dragging its feet. Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has already destructed demand for more than 2.25 billion gallons of biofuel. With the corn and ethanol industries hurting, EPA needs to act now to provide new value-added market opportunities and ensure consumers have consistent access to lower priced, higher octane E15.”