Amid news that this summer could see the highest gas prices in recent memory and President Trump’s pledge to allow year-round sales of E15, a bipartisan group of 18 senators sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt, outlining the benefits of allowing year-round E15 sales.
“We write today regarding President Trump’s recent commitment to allow for 15 percent ethanol blends (E15) to be sold year around,” they wrote in the letter. “We also seek information and a transparent timeline from you on the regulatory pathway forward to address the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) issue in the wake of the president’s announcement.”
According to the senators, “allowing an open marketplace with more fuel options for consumers encourages competition and drives down consumer fuel costs.”
They also wrote that E15 lowers evaporative and tailpipe emissions when compared to 10 percent ethanol fuel.
“Resolving this issue also provides a pathway to increase farm income at a time when producers are struggling with a depressed farm economy, low commodity prices, and tight margins,” they wrote.
Congress never intended the RVP waiver to be a market cap on the amount of ethanol blended in gasoline, they said.
“Rather, this provision was intended to provide a pathway for ethanol to grow and thrive in the fuel marketplace when it was passed in 1990,” they wrote. “The current interpretation is outdated and has created an untenable regulatory barrier to E15 as a readily available option for motorists. As the fuel marketplace has changed over the past 28 years since the RVP waiver for 10 percent ethanol blends was first approved, this provision needs to change as well.”
Advocates of the ethanol industry praised the letter.
“We strongly support the call by nearly 20 U.S. senators for EPA to allow the use of E15 this summer while the Agency makes good on President Trump’s promise to correct the outdated Reid Vapor Pressure interpretation,” said Bran Jennings, CEO American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE). “It is unacceptable for EPA to drag its feet to allow E15 and higher ethanol use year-round while it makes time to rubber stamp so-called ‘hardship’ waivers enabling refiners to escape their legal responsibility to blend ethanol under the Renewable Fuel Standard.”
U.S. senators who signed the letter include: Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan