As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works towards allowing year-round use of E15 gasoline, ethanol proponents are watching closely with summer sales ban approaching.
“Farmers stand ready to work with the Administration to clear obstacles to higher blends of ethanol such as E15 and ensure a final rule works for the full ethanol and fuel supply chain,” said Kevin Ross, National Corn Growers Association first vice president. “To ensure E15 sales are not interrupted, NCGA urges EPA to complete this rulemaking by June 1.”
Ross’s comments came during a hearing held as part of the rulemaking that would remove regulations requiring retailers in many areas of the country to stop selling E15, a blend of gasoline and 15% ethanol approved for all vehicles 2001 and newer, during the summer months.
In a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson urged EPA to rewrite a provision contained within the rule that could amount to a cap on ethanol.
“Farmers Union is eager for EPA to follow through on its promises to get an E15 waiver out of the door by June 1,” Johnson said. “But we are concerned that certain provisions within EPA’s rulemaking unnecessarily work against expanded use of higher level blends of ethanol.”
NFU’s concerns stem from EPA’s interpretation of the “substantially similar” clause of the Clean Air Act, which prohibits the sale of any fuel or fuel additive that is “not substantially similar” to fuels or fuel additives used in the certification of new vehicles.
In 2017, E10 gasoline — gasoline blended with 10% ethanol — became the nation’s certification fuel, making higher level blends of ethanol, like E15 and E30, substantially similar. Yet in its proposal, EPA has limited its “substantially similar” interpretation to only an E15 blend, making the prospects of using higher level blends of ethanol harder to achieve.
“Unfortunately, EPA’s substantially similar determination is limited to E15,” said Johnson. “While we do not necessarily disagree with EPA’s interpretations that would allow for E15 year-round, we believe the statute clearly allows for higher ethanol blends as part of the substantially similar determination based on E10 certification fuel.”