EPA releases proposed year-round E15 rule

By Matt Thompson | March 12, 2019

The U.S. EPA released today its proposed rule to allow the year-round sale of E15. The agency was directed by President Donald Trump last year to begin the rulemaking process to have it place by this summer’s driving season. Currently, E15 sales are restricted in certain markets between June 1 and Sept. 15.

The proposed rule also includes provisions for renewable identification number (RIN) reform. According to EPA’s notice, the proposed changes to the RIN market will “bring greater transparency to the market and deter price manipulation.” Those changes include requiring public disclosure when RIN holdings exceed a certain threshold, limiting how long non-obligated parties can hold RINs, and prohibiting certain entities from purchasing separated RINs. Public comments on the rule must be submitted by April 29. 

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said in a press release the RFA continues to urge EPA to separate RIN reforms from the rule. “With just 80 days left before the start of the summer driving season, finalizing and implementing the E15 regulatory fix remains a tall order,” he said. “That is why we have urged EPA to separate the year-round E15 provisions from the RIN reform provisions, and move forward as quickly as possible to finalize a practical and defensible year-round E15 solution.”

American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Brian Jennings also acknowledged the tight timeline for finalizing the rule. In a press release Jennings said, “With just 80 days to go until the start of the 2019 summer driving season, we will urge stakeholders to provide public comment to EPA, so a legally defensible rule can be in place by June 1. Time is of the essence, particularly since EPA insists on saddling the E15 rulemaking with controversial RIN reforms that will need to be carefully reviewed to ensure they don’t undermine ethanol demand.”

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said Growth Energy still is looking over the rule. “We are still reviewing details of the proposal, and we look forward to working with the EPA to ensure that any changes—particularly in the RIN market—do not upend the marketplace, and continue to encourage investment in E15 and other higher ethanol blends.”

While the three ethanol trade groups expressed reservations about the RIN reforms, all welcomed the announcement, and hope that the final rule will be in place to allow year-round sales prior to June 1.

“We appreciate the administration’s efforts to fulfill the president’s promise and will continue in our commitment to making the environmental and economic benefits of E15 available to consumers nationwide,” Skor said.

“With ethanol plants shutting down or idling and farmers experiencing the worst conditions in more than a decade, removing the summertime ban on E15 once and for all would send a desperately needed signal to the marketplace,” Cooper said.

“We’re pleased EPA has finally publicized its proposal to allow retailers to offer E15 to their customers year-round,” Jennings said.

A summary of the rule is posted on EPA’s website.