Alternative Fuels Industry Has Mixed Reaction to EPA's Decision on Year-Round E15 Sales

A long-delayed rule will allow year-round sales of the ethanol-blended fuel in eight Midwestern states.
Biofuel pump centered between two regular fuel pumps

NATIONAL REPORT — After more than two and a half years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule which granted the request made by eight Midwestern states to allow year-round access to E15. 

The announcement was met with mixed reactions from groups representing the renewable fuels industry. While companies such as biofuel producer Poet applauded the decision, umbrella associations struck a note of caution. 

[Read more: U.S. Drivers Surpass 100 Billion Miles on E15]

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) stated that while it was satisfied to see this rule finally published, it also found the delayed implementation until 2025 was more likely to create uncertainty and confusion about the availability of E15 this upcoming summer. 

"The Biden administration missed its statutory deadline to finalize the governors' petition by more than 500 days, and now it claims there just isn't enough time to implement the rule in time for summer 2024," said Geoff Cooper, RFA president and CEO. "Why should ethanol producers, farmers, fuel retailers and consumers in these states be penalized for EPA's foot-dragging and failure to meet a clear deadline?"

The governors of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin initially submitted their requests in April 2022, with the EPA required by law to take action within 90 days. Despite the Congressionally mandated deadline, the agency waited until March 2023 — almost a year after receiving the petition — to propose approval of the request. After taking public comment, the draft rule was only sent to the Office of Management and Budget for inter-agency review last December.

Despite the frustration delayed implementation has caused, industry groups are already looking ahead to ensure that future sales of ethanol in the United States are more streamlined. Both the RFA and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) have thrown their weight behind bipartisan legislation that would allow E15 to be sold nationwide permanently, such as the Nationwide Consumer and Retailer Choice Act, which was introduced in the Senate last August. 

"While our work is not done, it's important to note that we wouldn't have the progress today without the leadership of Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, who organized the bipartisan group of 8 governors to exercise their authority under the Clean Air Act back in 2022," said Monte Shaw, IRFA executive director. "We know [Reynolds and Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird] will be with us as we continue to work on a 2024 summer solution and to take this Midwest victory nationwide."

E15 is a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline. 

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