EPA approves changes to allow year-round E15 in Kansas City

By Erin Voegele | March 12, 2021

The U.S. EPA on March 12 announced it has approved a change in fuel requirements that will allow E15 to be sold year-round in the Kansas City metro area. Representatives of the ethanol industry are applauding the EPA’s action.

The EPA published two similar final rules on March 12 implementing the change. In the rules, the agency approves the removal of the low Reid vapor pressure (RVP) gasoline requirements in the Kansas City metro area, which spans the boarder of Kanas and Missouri. Both the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources worked with EPA in removing those requirements.

According to the EPA, low RVP fuel was required by state regulation as part of a federally approved plan in Kansas City to help reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions that produce ozone. Sources of VOCs include emissions from gasoline and motor vehicles. The Kansas City metro area’s low RVP requirement is no longer needed with stricter national vehicle fuel and vehicle requirements. The EPA said the removal of the requirement affects sales in the Kansas counties of Johnson and Wyandotte, and the Missouri counties of Jackson, Clay and Platte.

 “The continued work by the state agencies to reduce ozone and improve air quality for the Kansas City region makes this possible,” said Acting EPA Region 7 Administrator Ed Chu. “EPA celebrates their accomplishments and is committed to continue working closely with both state agencies on air quality and other environmental issues to protect human health in Kansas City and throughout the region.”

The American Coalition for Ethanol has welcomed the EPA’s action. “This is good news for consumers, who could soon see cleaner, higher octane unleaded E15 gasoline as the lowest price gas at the pump,” said Ron Lamberty, senior vice president and market development director at ACE. “It can be even better news for retailers, who have seen marketers in other parts of the country increase customer counts, volumes, and profits by adding E15 to their fuel slate. Right now, low ethanol prices and high RIN credit values make E15 the lowest cost gasoline at the rack, and whether they sell it as UnleadedE15, Unleaded88, or something else, retailers can offer the lowest price on the street and still earn some extra margin.

“Contrary to what they’ve been told for a decade, it's also very likely most retailer’s current equipment is compatible with E15,” he continued. “They can check using ACE’s Flex Check tool, and if EPA’s recent proposed E15 labeling and underground storage tank compatibility rule is finalized, it will be even easier for station owners to prove this to be true.

“Year-round E15 adoption in the Kansas City metro gives consumers the ability to use a cleaner fuel as the world opens back up and people get back on the roads,” Lamberty added. Clean air doesn’t have to be more expensive or require everyone to buy new cars. Using more ethanol helps improve air quality and supports clean energy efforts.”

Growth Energy has also applauded the EPA’s action. “This announcement is a big step for the Kansas City metro area and a continuation of the hard work that they have done to improve air quality and address environmental issues,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “Allowing the year-round sale of E15 will help strengthen these clean energy efforts and give more Kansas Citians access to cleaner, more affordable fuel options. A recent report found that nationwide, switching from E10 to E15 would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 20 million tons per year. Ethanol’s environmental benefits are tangible and will help continue Kansas City’s efforts to protect human health and contribute to our country’s overall efforts to decarbonize the transportation system.”