EPA final rule will permit year-round E15 fuel sales

A final rule signed May 31 by US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler that waives summertime Reid Vapor Pressure limits and allows year-round sales of gasoline with a 15% ethanol blend was met with disappointment by refiners and with delight by corn ethanol producers.

A final rule signed May 31 by US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler that waives summertime Reid Vapor Pressure limits and allows year-round sales of gasoline with a 15% ethanol blend was met with disappointment by refiners and with delight by corn ethanol producers.

The rule also announced measures to reform the Renewable Identification Number (RIN) compliance program under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard by making it more transparent and less vulnerable to price manipulation.

“Following President [Donald] Trump’s directive, today’s action expands the market for biofuels and improves the RFS program by increasing transparency and reducing price manipulation,” Wheeler said. “As President Trump promised, EPA is approving the year-round sale of E15 in time for summer driving season, giving drivers more choices at the pump.”

EPA said the RIN rule reforms included requirements for public disclosure if a party’s RIN holdings exceed certain thresholds, and additional data collections to improve EPA market monitoring capability. These reforms also will help the agency continue to gather the information needed to decide whether further action is needed to ensure stability in the RIN market, it indicated.

“We’re disappointed that EPA ignored our comments and the plain language of the Clean Air Act, which makes clear that EPA lacks authority to grant an RVP waiver to E15. EPA has left us no choice but to pursue legal action to get this unlawful rule overturned,” American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Pres. Chet Thompson responded.

Meanwhile, Renewable Fuels Association Pres. Geoff Cooper said in St. Louis, “E15 already has a proven track record for saving drivers money at the pump and reducing emissions, and today’s action will ensure that more Americans are able to enjoy those benefits. Year-round E15 will also provide a badly needed long-term demand boost for our industry and America’s farmers, who face a number of daunting challenges today.”

The Alexandria, Va.-based Outdoor Power Equipment Institute said it will continue to advise consumers to use gasoline with no more than 10% ethanol in their power lawn mowers, generators, chain saws, and similar equipment.

“As the fuels marketplace is evolving, you can no longer count on being able to put the same fuel in your mower that you also use in your car or truck,” OPEI Pres. Kris Kiser warned. “You must pay attention at the pump so you can protect your power equipment. You must put the right fuel in the right engine product. And for outdoor power equipment, that means E10 or less.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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