The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an emergency fuel waiver to allow E15 gasoline, gasoline that uses a 15 percent ethanol blend, to be sold during the summer driving season, effective May 1.
NATSO urged EPA in a March 9 letter to exercise its waiver authority under the Clean Air Act to authorize the year-round sale of gasoline blended with up to 15 percent ethanol, arguing it would lower the cost of fuel while also enhancing America’s energy security and improving the emissions characteristics of gasoline.
Currently, in roughly two-thirds of the country, E15 cannot be sold from terminals starting on May 1 and at retail stations starting on June 1. EPA extended the 1-psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver that currently applies to E10 gasoline to E15, which enables E15 sales throughout the summer driving season in these areas. EPA’s waiver only extends the 1-psi waiver to E15 in parts of the country where it already exists for E10. E15 can already be sold year-round in parts of the country that have a Reformulated Gasoline (RFG) program.
EPA’s emergency fuel waiver will go into effect on May 1 when terminal operators would otherwise no longer be able to sell E15 in the effected regions of the country and will last for the statutory maximum of 20 days.
The Biden Administration announced in early April that it would issue the waiver. NATSO commended the Biden Administration for permitting year-round sales of E15 but cautioned that ongoing impediments related to infrastructure compatibility could limit market penetration of higher blends of ethanol being sold in the United States.
The fuel retail industry advocated for year-round E15 sales to help lower fuel prices for consumers while enhancing the industry’s fuel options and improving the carbon intensity of those fuels.
“We support removing unnecessary regulatory barriers to the sale of higher ethanol blends,” NATSO said in a statement to media. “E15 offers retailers an opportunity to diversify fuel options and improve gasoline’s emissions characteristics while lowering costs for consumers and enhancing America’s energy security. Fuel retailers will continue to face obstacles to investing in E15, primarily in the form of infrastructure compatibility concerns and associated liability exposure. While today’s announcement is positive, until these obstacles are removed they will impede the sale of higher ethanol blends.”
Specifically, fuel retailers must grapple with a state-by-state patchwork of expensive infrastructure compatibility requirements. Fuel retailers also face liability concerns if consumers misfuel their vehicles, potentially voiding their manufacturer’s vehicle warranty.
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