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Farm-state lawmakers want more ethanol used in gasoline

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Lawmakers introduced Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act last week.

Farm-state lawmakers have introduced legislation, Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act, (S. 517, H.R. 1311) to extend the Reid vapor pressure waiver to ethanol blends that are higher than 10%. 

The legislation, introduced in the Senate by Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Nebraska, Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, would increase market access opportunities for higher blends of ethanol. It would allow retailers across the country to sell E15 and other higher-ethanol/gasoline fuel blends year-round, increasing regulatory certainty and eliminating confusion at the pump.

Each year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates RVP for gasoline and gasoline-ethanol blended from June 1 until September 15. During these months, when many travelers are on the road, the EPA restricts the retail sale of fuels with ethanol above 10%. Only higher blends that go through extra and more costly refining may be sold to consumers during this time.

RVP is a measure of how quickly fuel evaporates, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates vapor pressure/RVP to prevent increased ozone or smog from vehicle emissions. Congress granted regular gasoline with 10% ethanol (E10) an RVP waiver because E10 reduces tailpipe emissions. EPA does not give E15 the same RVP waiver as E10, even though it is less volatile.

Retailers are forced to change fuels or labeling during the summer fueling season. This is why retailers often choose not to sell higher ethanol blends, such as E15, since they can only sell these products mid-September until May. The Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act would allow retailers to sell E15 all year long without going through the costly approval process.

“The introduction of the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act is the first step toward eradicating an unnecessary EPA restriction that limits consumer choice at the pump during the peak time of the year when Americans are on the road,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy.

“The bipartisan legislation . . . would also ensure a fair playing field for higher ethanol blends, expanding fuel choices and strengthening our energy diversity,” Fischer said.

“Biofuels give consumers more options and reduce fuel prices at the gas pump. This legislation would expand the market for ethanol producers, opening more market opportunities for fuels grown on Hoosier farms,” Donnelly said.

“The EPA should be consistent in the way it treats different fuel blends as a matter of fairness and to give consumers more options for fueling their vehicles," Grassley said. "The EPA has never acted on its authority to grant a Reid vapor pressure waiver for E15. This bill proposes a legislative fix to fill the void.”  

Carrying the legislation in the House are Reps. Adrian Smith, R-Nebraska, and Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa.

Sources: Growth Energy, POET

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