ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The recent announcement from President Biden that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will issue a national, emergency waiver allowing the sale of E15 gasoline this summer was met with applause from several trade groups.
The EPA is also considering additional action to facilitate the use of E15 year-round, including continued discussions with states that have expressed interest in allowing year-round use of E15 and possible modifications to E15 fuel pump labeling.
NATSO, which represents truck stops, travel plazas and off-highway fuel retailers, and SIGMA: America's Leading Fuel Marketers, were among those commending the Biden Administration for permitting year-round sales of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol (E15). The industry cautioned, however, that ongoing impediments related to infrastructure compatibility could limit market penetration of higher blends of ethanol being sold in the United States.
"We support removing unnecessary regulatory barriers to the sale of higher ethanol blends. E15 offers retailers an opportunity to diversify fuel options and improve gasoline's emissions characteristics while lowering costs for consumers and enhancing America's energy security," said David Fialkov, executive vice president of government affairs for NATSO, speaking on behalf of NATSO and SIGMA.
"Fuel retailers will continue to face obstacles to investing in E15, primarily in the form of infrastructure compatibility concerns and associated liability exposure. While [the] announcement is positive, until these obstacles are removed, they will impede the sale of higher ethanol blends."
Specifically, fuel retailers must grapple with a state-by-state patchwork of expensive infrastructure compatibility requirements, NATSO and SIGMA stated. Fuel retailers also face liability concerns if consumers misfuel their vehicles, potentially voiding their manufacturer's vehicle warranty, the trade groups added.
"The industry looks forward to working with the [Biden] Administration, lawmakers and all industry stakeholders to address these outstanding concerns," NATSO and SIGMA concluded.
The fuel retail industry has advocated for year-round E15 sales to help lower fuel prices for consumers while enhancing the industry's fuel options and improving the carbon intensity of those fuels.
E15, a blend containing 15-percent ethanol, is currently offered at 2,300 gas stations across the United States. At current prices, E15 can save a family 10 cents per gallon of gas on average, and many stores sell E15 at an even greater discount, the White House wrote in a statement.
Alexandria-based NATSO is the trade association of America's travel plaza and truck stop industry. Founded in 1960, NATSO represents the industry on legislative and regulatory matters; serves as the official source of information on the diverse travel plaza and truck stop industry; provides education to its members; conducts an annual convention and trade show; and supports efforts to generally improve the business climate in which its members operate.
Also based in Alexandria, SIGMA: America’s Leading Fuel Marketers represents a diverse membership of approximately 260 independent chain retailers and marketers of motor fuel. While 67 percent are involved in gasoline retailing, 83 percent are involved in wholesaling, 56 percent transport product, 39 percent have bulk plant operations, and 20 percent operate terminals. Member retail outlets come in many forms, including truck stops, traditional gas stations, convenience stores with gas pumps, cardlocks, and unattended public fueling locations.