High Hurdle Race

E15 and higher ethanol blends do not receive the same 1-pound RVP volatility waiver that is granted to E10, writes Tom Buis of Growth Energy, encouraging readers to contact their legislators to show support for new bills seeking to change that.
By Tom Buis | May 15, 2015

The journey to making E15 the standard fuel option across the country is like a high hurdle race. As soon as we clear one hurdle, we have to focus on the next. Although we are making constant progress with retailers and E15 is now available at more than 120 stations in 18 states, there are still challenges ahead. The largest regulatory obstacle standing between consumers and access to higher ethanol blends is the absence of a Reid vapor pressure (RVP) volatility waiver for E15.

Currently, E15 and higher ethanol blends do not receive the same 1-pound RVP volatility waiver that is granted to E10, which restricts summertime sales of E15 in many states. This regulatory restriction creates a disincentive for retailers to sell E15 or higher biofuel blends and denies consumers access to a fuel that meets their price and performance needs. E15 should not be treated as a seasonal fuel and the American consumer should not have to check their calendar to see if they will have a choice when they pull up to the pump.

Since Growth Energy applied for a fuel waiver for E15 in 2009, the ethanol industry has repeatedly asked the U.S. EPA to level the playing field and grant a similar 1-pound RVP waiver for ethanol blends above 10 percent. Unfortunately, when EPA finalized the misfueling mitigation rule for E15, they explicitly stated that they would not grant a RVP waiver for E15, even though E15 is a cleaner, higher performing, less expensive fuel.

We commend Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rand Paul, R-Ky, Reps. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, and Adrian Smith. R-Neb., for recognizing the need for competition in the marketplace and taking leadership on this important issue in U.S. Congress. These congressmen have introduced legislation in both the Senate and the House of Representatives to remove regulations that limit market access to higher ethanol blends and restrict consumer choice at the pump. They agree that the regulatory treatment of E15 is unfair and is preventing the adoption of new fuels that could benefit our environment, our economy and our energy security. We know that others will soon follow their lead and work together to move these measures forward.

For the ethanol industry, E15 is the low-hanging fruit. It’s the most tested fuel in history and is compatible with more than 80 percent of the cars on the road. Nationwide, moving to E15 would create another 136,000 American jobs that can’t be outsourced, reduce the demand for foreign oil by 7 billion gallons and eliminate up to 8 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year—the equivalent of taking 1.68 million vehicles off the road—all while saving consumers money at the pump. E15 is projected to save consumers between 5 and 15 cents per gallon. And, because ethanol increases the available fuel supply, it will help to drive down the price of gasoline for all drivers. In a time when roughly 8 percent of our annual incomes are being used for commuting costs, those savings really add up.

The oil industry recognizes the obvious benefits to consumers and will continue to throw up every hurdle they can to protect their market share and keep our nation addicted to fossil fuels. But each of those hurdles we clear sends a positive signal that America is ready for cleaner technologies that provide consumers with a choice and savings at the pump. As an industry, we know that hurdles are just a series of barriers that are meant to be jumped over, and in the end, we will win this race.

Call your elected officials today and let them know that you support S. 889, H.R. 1944 and H.R. 1736.

Author: Tom Buis
CEO, Growth Energy