President Donald Trump voiced support again for E15 by directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin the rulemaking process to allow the fuel to be sold nationwide year round. E15 is approved for use in 2001 and newer light-duty vehicles.
Due to an antiquated regulation from 1990, the federal government holds E15, a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, to tougher standards than other fuels during the summer. Between June 1 and Sept. 15, E15 is limited for use in flex fuel vehicles only due to federal Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) requirements.
“We are grateful to the President for taking this crucial step toward year-round E15 sales,” said Nebraska Ethanol Board Administrator Sarah Caswell. “We are hopeful this long overdue federal waiver will be finalized and effective before the summer driving season.”
According to Growth Energy, a national ethanol trade association, allowing year-round sales of E15 by granting the RVP waiver could boost domestic ethanol demand by 1.3 billion gallons within five years.
“We should see an increase in fuel retailers across the state and nation offering E15 when the red tape and regulatory barriers are removed,” said Randy Gard, Nebraska Ethanol Board petroleum representative and chief operations officer for Bosselman Enterprises. “The waiver takes the perceived risk out of the market for fuel retailers, which will stimulate ethanol markets. E15 gives consumers another renewable, low-cost option at the pump.”
The E15 change will not be immediate, as it requires a formal rule-making process with the EPA. The EPA is expected to publish a proposed rule in the coming weeks, followed by a public comment period.
“Allowing E15 and higher blends of ethanol year round provides a boost for industry stakeholders including farmers, ethanol producers, fuel retailers, consumers and local communities,” said Caswell. “We look forward to working with all our ethanol champions in government to make this a reality.”
Caswell noted that Nebraska state fleet vehicles have been running on E15 for more than two years, saving the state money while using a homegrown product. Nebraska continues that forward thinking by recently seeking and receiving EPA approval to evaluate the use of E30 in conventional vehicles owned by the state.
“The focus remains on bringing high-octane, low-carbon fuels to the market to meet vehicle standards,” said Caswell. “We’ll continue our work with automakers and policymakers on retail infrastructure, removing market barriers, reducing cost and ensuring availability.”
Information provided by the Nebraska Ethanol Board.