Farm Progress

Battle for year-round E15 continues

Advocates take action on multiple fronts to allow summer sales for good.

Joshua Baethge, Policy editor

August 14, 2023

3 Min Read
Person pumping gas into vehicle
Getty Images

Corn industry advocates are once again pressing the EPA to authorize year-round E15 sales. An open letter to President Biden from the American Coalition for Ethanol is the latest salvo in a battle that has been brewing for more than a year.  

Last week, attorneys general from Nebraska and Iowa sued the EPA. They contend agency officials failed to respond to their states’ petition for summer E15 within the allotted 60-day response window.

The lawsuit is part of an ongoing push by eight Midwestern governors to allow summer E15 sales in their states. The fuel is currently prohibited from June through September due to air quality concerns. In April 2022, officials in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin petitioned EPA to change this.

They note that EPA was obligated to respond to their petition within 90 days. However, the agency did not issue a formal response until March of this year. EPA’s response included a proposed rule allowing summer E15 sales beginning next year.

In the meantime, President Joe Biden issued an emergency waiver for the second consecutive year allowing summer E15 sales. If EPA’s proposed rule goes into effect as planned before next June, there will be a ban on summer sales going forward. Despite this, state officials are not taking any chances. They say finalizing a rule this year is critical to establishing a permanent solution and allowing the market to prepare.

“The EPA’s ongoing failure to act following our E15 notification more than two years ago is nothing more than a thinly veiled disguise of their disdain towards clean, renewable, American-produced ethanol,” Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says. “The EPA disfavors anything that doesn’t have the word 'electric' in its name.”

The day after Iowa and Nebraska filed their lawsuit, a coalition of 24 renewable fuels and corn organizations sent an open letter to EPA asking for new summer E15 rules to be finalized by the end of summer.  It was signed by Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, Iowa Ethanol, Renewable Fuels Nebraska, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Ethanol Board, North Dakota Ethanol Producers Association, Missouri Renewable Fuels Association, Wisconsin Biofuels Association, North Dakota Corn Growers Association, Missouri Corn, Wisconsin Corn Growers Association, Minnesota Ethanol, Minnesota Corn Growers Association, Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association, Illinois Corn Growers Association, Illinois Renewable Fuels Association, South Dakota Ethanol, Ohio Ethanol Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association, South Dakota Corn Growers Association, Renew Kansas, Kansas Corn Growers Association and Indiana Ethanol.

"Patience has run out,” Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw said in a statement following the letter’s release. “It's beyond time to provide certainty for E15. Consumers need year-round sales of lower-cost, lower-carbon E15. Retailers and suppliers need certainty to make investments. Finalizing the rule by the end of this summer would allow sufficient time for refiners to be ready for the summer of 2024."

American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Brian Jennings says states should not have to sue the EPA to do its job. In his Aug. 14 letter to the president, he says it’s time for EPA to approve the governors’ petition so motorists in the eight states can benefit from uninterrupted E15 availability. According to him, last year’s E15 sales saved consumers an after of 15 cents per gallon, and in some places close to a dollar per gallon.

“What should have been a straightforward undertaking by EPA to approve a petition submitted by eight governors on April 28, 2022, allowing retailers in their states to sell E15 year-round, has unfortunately turned into a sixteen-month odyssey,” Jennings says in the ACE letter. “We hope elevating this matter to your attention will finally get the rulemaking over the finish line.”

Read more about:


About the Author(s)

Joshua Baethge

Policy editor, Farm Progress

Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.

Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like