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Two States Take Legal Action Over Year-Round E15 Sales

A new lawsuit seeks to compel the EPA to act on a bipartisan request from eight states.
E15 fuel

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The attorneys general of Iowa and Nebraska filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Aug. 7 over the states' request to make E15 gasoline available for sale year-round.

The lawsuit stems from an April 2022 request by a bipartisan coalition of governors led by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. The governors asked the EPA to change its regulations to allow the fuel blend to be permanently sold at all times rather than be restricted during the summer. The filing claims that the EPA failed to respond within a mandated period and seeks an injunction compelling it to do so.

"The Clean Air Act imposes many duties upon the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration. Among those is a mandate to promulgate regulations in response to particular requests from State governors," the lawsuit reads. "Iowa's and Nebraska's governors, along with the governors of six other states, made the required request last year, triggering the EPA's duty to promulgate the required regulations in no more than 90 days. That deadline passed more than a year ago. "

[Read more: E15 Sales Comes to New York State]

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

"The Biden Administration has dragged its feet long enough," said Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird. "Hardworking Iowans deserve a cheaper, cleaner option at the gas pump. But despite the Governors' request, the EPA has refused to allow Iowans to buy the fuel they want. Well, Iowans are done waiting. We're taking President Biden and the EPA to court to make E15 available year-round."

Last March, the EPA proposed a new rule to allow the sales of gasoline with a higher ethanol blend in certain states in the Midwest, as Convenience Store News previously reported. However, under the terms of the rule, this proposal would not take effect until summer 2024, a year later than the coalition of governors requested.

Multiple industry associations, including Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association, expressed support for the proposal but criticized the delay. However, groups such as the American Petroleum Institute claimed that adopting the permanent rule change would require major changes to the fuel infrastructure system that could take years to implement while minimizing impacts on consumers. The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers expressed opposition to a permanent change, claiming it would increase the cost of gas production and lead to higher prices at the pump.

The EPA previously issued an emergency waiver allowing E15 to be sold during the 2023 summer driving season to address market supply issues exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.

The attorneys general behind the lawsuit say that approving year-round E15 sales would benefit drivers, farmers and the country as a whole.

"The Biden Administration knows that increasing access to E15 will help consumers obtain some relief from the rising cost of gasoline, provide support for our farmers, and strengthen US energy security during a turbulent time," said Neb. Attorney General Mike Hilgers.

The full lawsuit is available here.

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