E15 – People are pissed, tempers flare, the heat gets hotter as requests flood into EPA’s Scott Pruitt to lift barrier to summertime E15

June 2, 2018 |

June 1st has come and gone and the E15 debate is hotter than ever as the weather also starts to heat up in most parts of the U.S. The influx of releases and news about E15 sales, recently allowed by the White House, and uproar that the EPA still has not lifted the outdated regulatory barrier to actually allow it to happen is all over the place and on everyone’s minds right now. In today’s Digest, we cover some of the hottest responses to what is going on and the pleads going to EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt to make E15 happen this summer.

The American Coalition for Ethanol

In South Dakota, The American Coalition for Ethanol is pretty teed off that “despite repeated public endorsements from the White House to allow the sale of E15 unleaded gasoline year-round, EPA has taken no action to lift the outdated regulatory barrier prior to today’s start of the low Reid vapor pressure (RVP) season. E15 was tested and approved in 2011 for use in any car or light truck from model year 2001 and newer. EPA’s interpretation of RVP regulations effectively bans the sale of lower cost, higher octane E15 from June 1 through September 15, even though E15 has lower RVP and emissions than the gasoline sold in most markets each summer.”

“EPA’s refusal to make good on the President’s promise to allow E15 use year-round hurts U.S. motorists and farmers,” said Brian Jennings, ACE CEO. “Gas prices are climbing to their highest levels since 2014, yet EPA won’t let most Americans fill up on E15 which costs about a nickel per gallon less than regular.  Allowing E15 year-round would also help spur demand for farmers who are suffering from low prices and surplus crops.  What a lost opportunity to do something to help Americans.”

“We have been told by single station owners and marketers operating hundreds of stations, that this ridiculous switching from E15 to flex fuel in the summer, and back again in the fall, is too much “hassle” for them to offer E15 at their stations,” said Ron Lamberty, ACE Senior Vice President. “This is the seventh year E15 retailers will have to switch from selling E15 to a flex fuel for the summer, which confuses their customers and hurts their business — it’s hurting E15 availability nationwide.”

“Delaying the change doesn’t protect the environment either. It only protects oil company market share. E15 unleaded fuel can be used by 90 percent of the cars and light trucks on the road, and it’s cleaner and costs less than any other gasoline cars are using today,” Lamberty continued. “EPA has been willing to stand the RFS on its head to give hundreds of millions of dollars in questionable regulatory breaks to very profitable refiners, yet they can’t seem to find time to make this small change that would help small businesses attract new customers and give drivers a break from high gas prices. We need EPA to move forward with the regulatory steps to make E15 use year-round a reality.”

National Corn Growers Association

In their press release, The National Corn Growers Association is “urging the Environmental Protection Agency to expeditiously take steps to remove this barrier and allow for year-round sales of ethanol blends greater than 10 percent, such as E15.”

“E15 is typically more affordable at the pump and is better for the environment,” said NCGA President Kevin Skunes. “There is no good reason to limit access to E15 in the summer, which is an especially busy time for families making more stops to refuel.”

“NCGA believes EPA should address the RVP regulatory barrier separately and should not combine the agreed-upon RVP fix with proposals damaging to our export markets such as offering biofuels credits on ethanol exports.”

Iowa’s Response

In Iowa, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig and Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA), called on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to remove the unnecessary barrier to summer time sale of E15.

“The state of Iowa is the national leader in biofuels production. This E15 sale restriction gives consumers less choice and will force them to buy more costly fuel at the pump. I call on Administrator Pruitt to take immediate action, follow through on President Trump’s commitment and use enforcement discretion to allow uninterrupted sales of E15 to all 2001 and newer vehicles this summer,” Naig said.

Until the formal rulemaking process to remove the E15 restriction is completed, Naig and Shaw are calling on Administrator Pruitt to not enforce the E15 summer time restriction given the order by President Trump. E15 is higher octane than the most commonly used fuel, E10, and is typically priced five to ten cents less. E15 is approved for use in all 2001 and newer vehicles, which account for over 90% of fuel purchases.

“The President has ordered EPA to remove the E15 restriction,” Shaw said. “It is unclear why it is taking EPA so long to follow through on the President’s order, but until the formal rulemaking process is completed, Pruitt should take action today to ensure motorists have access to the lowest-cost fuel choice on the market for regular vehicles. In Iowa alone, consumers could save tens of millions of dollars this summer if given the option of E15,” said Shaw.

Growth Energy

In Washington, D.C., Growth Energy is really upset at the EPA too. Their statement said, “Today marks the beginning of the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) restriction on E15 sales across most of the country during the summer driving season – June 1 to September 15. The ban on E15 comes at a time when American drivers would most benefit from relief at the pump. Instead, consumers are barred from purchasing lower cost fuel at a time when gas prices are approaching a national average of $3 per gallon – higher than they have been in years.

“Every summer, earth-friendly E15 is held to tougher standards than other fuels sold year-round, cutting off sales and imposing needless costs on retailers and consumers alike,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “The Environmental Protection Agency must act to fulfill President Trump’s promise to ‘unleash E15’ by cutting this arcane regulation – saving retailers millions of dollars in labeling costs and letting rural America succeed in the marketplace unhampered.”

E15 retailers face costs of up to $1.5 million dollars each year just to relabel pumps around RVP, while others markets are entirely shut off for consumers because retailers cannot adjust for these astronomical barriers.

“RVP relief now means lifting our rural economy out of the worst crisis in a generation, with farm income plunging to a 12-year low,” said Skor. “And it means putting our industry on the path to an additional 1.3 billion gallons of ethanol demand within five years.”

Through an ongoing digital advocacy campaign Growth Energy is mobilizing rural America to call on the Administration to follow through on President Trump’s promise to make E15 available year-round, a move that would boost farm income amid the sharpest agricultural downturn since the 1980s.


In South Dakota, POET is also calling on the EPA to give summer drivers access to high-octane E15 fuel and save consumers as much as 15 cents per gallon, according to their estimates.

“Americans expecting a tax break this year could see those dollars eaten up by skyrocketing fuel costs,” said Kyle Gilley, POET Sr. Vice President of Communications and External Affairs. “President Trump has committed to fixing the regulatory problem and providing a long-term solution to fluxuating gas prices. We are calling on Administrator Pruitt and the EPA to act quickly to allow year-round sales of E15.”

“When drivers fill up with biofuels, they not only save money, they support American jobs, rural communities and national security,” Gilley said. “EPA approval of year-round E15 use will have a dramatic impact on our country. It needs to happen now.”

Renewable Fuels Association and Consumer Poll

It’s not just ethanol companies and ethanol industry groups that are pissed off either. Apparently, consumers don’t get the hold up and a new poll conducted by Morning Consult (and reported by the Renewable Fuels Association) said that, “American consumers are frustrated by the lack of choice that stems from the summertime prohibition on E15. In a poll of registered voters conducted by Morning Consult last week, four out of five respondents said they believe the federal government should allow E15 to be sold year-round. These drivers clearly understand that E15 offers a lower-cost, higher-octane fuel choice that is better for the environment.”

“EPA Administrator Pruitt leaves no stone unturned when it comes to addressing the grievances of the oil industry, most recently by printing $34 million worth of artificial RIN credits and handing them over to refining company HollyFrontier like a welfare check,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Farmers are tired of subsidizing some of the wealthiest companies in the country. It’s time for Scott Pruitt’s wholesale destruction of the RFS to end. It’s time for EPA to follow the law and the direction of the president. It’s time for EPA to create biofuel demand by eliminating this antiquated regulatory barrier and empower consumers to make the fuel choices that are best for their cars and wallets,” he added.

Bottom Line

People are pissed and the EPA needs to take notice and take action. Summer is here and there are plenty of groups, businesses and consumers out there that want to see E15 become a reality this summer. Only time will tell if Scott Pruitt is listening and can get rid of the regulatory barrier causing the E15 holdup this summer. In the meantime, we have a feeling that ethanol and corn industry groups and companies will keep tapping his shoulder with a “hey…let’s make this happen already, will ya?”


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