EPA unveils proposed year-round E15 rule along with RIN reforms

March 12, 2019 |

In Washington, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed regulatory changes to allow gasoline blended with up to 15 percent ethanol (E15) to take advantage of the 1-psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver for the summer months that has historically been applied only to E10. EPA is also proposing regulatory changes to modify elements of the renewable identification number (RIN) compliance system under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program to enhance transparency in the market and deter price manipulation.

Under the proposed expansion, E15 would be allowed to be sold year-round without additional RVP control, rather than just eight months of the year. Proposed reforms to RIN markets include:

  • Prohibiting certain parties from being able to purchase separated RINs;
  • Requiring public disclosure when RIN holdings exceed specified thresholds;
  • Limiting the length of time a non-obligated party can hold RINs; and
  • Increasing the compliance frequency of the program from once annually to quarterly.

EPA welcomes public comment on the proposal and intends to hold a public hearing on March 29. Additional details on the comment period and public hearing will be available shortly.

Reaction from Washington DC

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa

“I’m still reviewing the proposed rule, and while I have some concerns about certain details, this is a significant step in the right direction and puts E15 on track for approval by summer driving season. Ending the nonsensical ban on summertime sales of higher blends of ethanol is a no-brainer and a big victory for Iowa, Midwest farmers and the country as whole. It’s also a promise made and a promise kept by President Trump and Administrator Wheeler. Consumers should be able to choose what kind of fuel they want to use. Allowing year-round sales of higher blends of ethanol fits in well with President Trump’s mission to end bureaucratic red tape, create jobs in rural America and establish American energy dominance through increased domestic production. The final rule should reflect those goals in keeping with President Trump’s commitments.”

Industry reaction

Kyle Gilley, POET Senior Vice President of External Affairs and Communications

“The EPA’s swift action on year-round E15 demonstrates that the Trump Administration is serious about saving consumers money and delivering commonsense regulatory relief to small retailers, as well as expanding markets for struggling farmers faced with the worst financial crisis to hit U.S. agriculture since the 1980s. “It is important to get the E15 rule done right. That’s why POET will continue to work with the EPA toward agreement on a final rule that reflects the market reality in which our nation’s fuel retailers operate and satisfies the concerns of everyone who supports year-round access to E15. We are confident that the agency’s final rule will overcome the disingenuous objections and delay tactics from the oil industry to deliver cleaner and more affordable E15 by summer driving season as promised by President Trump.”

Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council

“Administrator Wheeler promised the president that he can get this rule over the finish line in time for the summer driving season, and it’s very encouraging to see that work remains on track. Summertime access to E15 represents a long-overdue step toward creating a truly competitive fuel market, where cleaner, lower-cost biofuel blends are available to all consumers. Year-round E15 means stronger markets for struggling farmers, and it opens vital new possibilities for advanced and cellulosic biofuels. Now the real test begins. Rural communities are counting on the administration to get this done, but a variety of oil industry stakeholders will be looking to leave their mark on new RIN-market guidelines. The EPA must ensure the final rule preserves a level playing field for those delivering cleaner, more affordable biofuel blends to consumers.”

Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy

“This rule is a critical milestone for rural Americans who make renewable biofuels and for all American drivers, who may soon have a cleaner, more affordable, higher-octane fuel all year long. We are still reviewing details of the proposal, and we look forward to working with the EPA to ensure that any changes – particularly in the RIN market – do not upend the marketplace, and continue to encourage investment in E15 and other higher ethanol blends. We appreciate the administration’s efforts to fulfill the president’s promise and will continue in our commitment to making the environmental and economic benefits of E15 available to consumers nationwide.”

Geoff Cooper, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA)
“Today’s proposed rule means EPA is one step closer to making good on President Trump’s promise to allow year-round sales of E15. With just 80 days left before the start of the summer driving season, finalizing and implementing the E15 regulatory fix remains a tall order. That is why we have urged EPA to separate the year-round E15 provisions from the RIN reform provisions, and move forward as quickly as possible to finalize a practical and defensible year-round E15 solution. With ethanol plants shutting down or idling and farmers experiencing the worst conditions in more than a decade, removing the summertime ban on E15 once and for all would send a desperately needed signal to the marketplace. We are carefully reviewing the details of the proposed rule and look forward to providing EPA with extensive technical and legal comments to support an expeditious and legally sound resolution of this decades-old red tape barrier. RFA and its member companies will also testify in support of year-round E15 at the upcoming public hearing.”

Jim Talent and Rick Santorum, Co-Chairs of Americans for Energy Security and Innovation (AESI)

“President Trump understands that homegrown biofuels are working to protect U.S. energy security and open critical new markets for America farmers. This important rule will ensure that renewable energy harvested across America’s heartland can reach consumers at the fuel pump all year long. Consumers win when they have a choice, and E15 promises to hold down costs and protect motorists from manipulation by Russia and its allies in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). We applaud Administrator Andrew Wheeler for staying true to the president’s promise and making this rule a priority. We urge regulators to let nothing stand in their way when it comes to getting this rule over the finish line by June 1, when retailers would otherwise be forced to pull homegrown energy off the market for no reason other than outdated regulations. Other elements of the rule may spark debate among oil industry stakeholders, but the EPA should stay focused on its mission and maintain an open and healthy marketplace that will continue to drive investment in higher biofuel blends.”

Curt Mether, President of the Iowa Corn Growers Association

“The ICGA is excited to hear the EPA released the proposed rule of permitting year-around sales of E15,” says . “This moves the rule in the right direction in hopes it is ready by the summer driving season beginning June 1. Year-round E15 sales would be a win for Iowa corn farmers and Iowa drivers. We need to better understand the language included about Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS) and the impact that it would have to our farmers. We will review the details and will be asking our leaders and ICGA members to engage on the rule making. E15 is a fuel blend containing 15 percent ethanol and is approved for use in all 2001 and newer vehicles, making up roughly 90 percent of the vehicles on the road today. Currently, outdated Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) regulations force fuel retailers to restrict sales of E15 to flex fuel vehicles (FFV) only from June 1 to September 15, the peak driving season. Today’s proposed rule puts steps in motion to allow year-round sales of E15.”

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