EPA on Friday issued an emergency fuel waiver, allowing E15 fuel sales in Summer 2023. Generally, E15 is banned in summer months, but EPA flipped the script for the first time last year when it lifted the summer ban to alleviate high pump prices.
“Last summer, E15 saved drivers $0.16 per gallon on average, and up to a dollar per gallon in some regions. It delivered those savings while reducing carbon emissions and smog-forming pollution,” said Emily Skor, Growth Energy CEO, in a press release. “America’s biofuel producers are ready to meet the demand for cleaner, more affordable choices at the pump so more drivers can enjoy those same benefits in the months ahead.”
Ethanol Petitions Granted
EPA’s announcement comes as the ethanol industry pushes for year-round E15 sales permanently, starting in 2024—a move that some state governors, including Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin, have already petitioned for. All of these states, except North Dakota, were granted approval by EPA on March 1.
Had the EPA not issued this summer waiver, year-round E15 sales would not have started until 2024. And that didn’t sit well with some stakeholders.
“By law, EPA should have finalized approval of the governors’ petition more than seven months ago, which would have given the marketplace more than enough time to adjust and prepare for implementation this summer,” said Geoff Cooper, Renewable Fuel Association (RFA) president and CEO.
To keep the E15 ball rolling, the House and Senate both reintroduced year-round E15 legislation in mid-March. Here’s what Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) had to say on the matter.
“Our bipartisan legislation is the only permanent, nationwide solution to unleashing the power of year-round E15,” Fischer said in a press release. “Negating the need for a patchwork of regulations will ensure all Americans can enjoy lower costs at the pump.”
However, now that the petitions have been granted and the summer ban is lifted, the gasoline spotlight can shift away from EPA and onto USDA, who says it has more plans for ethanol in 2023.
More to Come for Ethanol Availability
USDA, according to its latest press release on E15, is looking to further expand biofuel access to pumps across the U.S. through “competitive” grants included in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
Currently, E15 is available in 31 states and at over 2,500 gas stations, according to the U.S. Energy Department.