RFA tackles E15 volatility concerns

By | April 15, 2010
News release posted May 17, 2010

Washington - Ahead of the U.S. EPA decision on approving the use of ethanol blends up to 15 percent (E15), the Renewable Fuels Association urged EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to approve a volatility tolerance of 1 pound per square inch (psi) for Reid Vapor Pressure standards. Currently, such a waiver exists only for fuels blended with up to 10 percent ethanol.

Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) refers to the volatility of fuel, specifically addressing evaporative emissions. Extending the 1 psi volatility waiver to E15 would ensure fuel suppliers have the necessary gasoline blendstock with which to blend up to 15 percent ethanol.

Writing to Adminstrator Jackson on May 14, RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen stated:

"Currently, [a 1 psi RVP] volatility tolerance is only allowed for ethanol blends up to 10 percent. If the EPA does not extend the volatility tolerance to ethanol blends up to 15 percent, gasoline marketers may not be able to secure appropriate blendstock, particularly if their only source of supply is major integrated oil companies that may see a competitive advantage to denying them the specially-tailored fuel. We strongly urge the Agency to extend the 1 psi volatility waiver to E15."

Dinneen noted that ample scientific evidence supports EPA extending such a waiver. Increased ethanol content in gasoline reduces carbon monoxide (CO) emissions, a leading precursor to smog formation. Such reductions far outweigh any possible increases in evaporative emissions resulting from increased ethanol content.
Should EPA fail to grant the waiver, Dinneen suggested that EPA "should in the alternative conduct a rulemaking under Section 211(h) of the Act to address the volatility of blendstocks." Such a rule, Dinnen wrote, "would provide that all gasoline blendstock be limited in RVP sufficient to allow for blending with 15 percent ethanol while still achieving the regulatory RVP limits for fuel (E15) sold at the pump. In so doing, the EPA can ensure that a viable blendstock of E15 gasoline will be available and can maintain consistency with the RVP limits in the Act."

Dinneen concluded, "Given the benefits of ethanol from an air quality perspective and in light of Congress' dictates in the RFS to reduce dependence on oil and expand renewable fuels, it is important for the Agency to take the regulatory action necessary to allow for higher ethanol blends to reach the marketplace."