Growth Energy pushes for senate action on E15 fix

By Growth Energy | May 18, 2017

On May 18, Growth Energy urged the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to quickly approve legislation that would extend the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) volatility waiver to gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol (E15). The bill would allow retailers across the country to offer more biofuel choices to customers year-round. Growth Energy’s call to action was echoed by a growing alliance of companies representing both pioneers in advanced biofuels and major E15 retailers, including POET-DSM, Novozymes, Protec Fuel, and Kwik Trip. The Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act has 18 bipartisan sponsors and was introduced in March by Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; John Thune, R-S.D.; and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. Backed by Growth Energy and other allies, Senate champions have sought to bring the bill to a vote in next few weeks.

“This is a simple and long-overdue fix that will improve air quality, lower prices at the pump, and level the playing field for homegrown biofuels,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “We’ve been working with champions in the House and Senate for three years to get this over the finish line so that local fuel retailers have the freedom to offer cleaner-burning, less expensive biofuel blends all year long. Consumer access to E15 will provide a vital market for continued investment in the next generation of cellulosic biofuels produced from agricultural waste and other natural materials.”

Jeff Pinkerman, chairman of the Poet-DSM Board, which oversees a cellulosic facility in Emmetsburg, Iowa said, “For cellulosic biofuel to be successful in the U.S., we must eliminate artificial regulatory barriers that limit consumer choices and hinder the acceleration of new technologies. The Reid vapor pressure limits on E15 stifle market competition and undermine our efforts to bring lower carbon fuels to drivers everywhere. Congress needs to make this technical correction and allow consumers year-round access to higher performing and cooler burning biofuels.”

The proposal has broad, bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, in part because the current restrictions force many convenience stores to switch to less environmentally-friendly fuel options during the summer months, from June 1 to Sept. 15, and discourage many retailers from offering higher biofuel blends altogether. According to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, E15 can help to “reduce harmful volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, displace cancer causing emissions, and reduce smog forming potential, as well as cutting greenhouse gases … E15 is also typically two to 10 cents cheaper per gallon than E10.”

“Stability and consistency of policy and regulations are critical factors for the long-term planning of any business. They drive innovation and capital investments like the $36 million investment we just made in our manufacturing facility in Blair, Nebraska,” said Adam Monroe, president, Americas, Novozymes, a company with over a decade of experience developing enzyme technologies to convert agricultural waste into low-carbon cellulosic ethanol. "We see a legislative fix to RVP as the strongest signal to continue to spur business and jobs growth and put more money back in American pockets.”

Earlier this year, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt also expressed his hope for a fix but acknowledged the need for greater certainly in the laws governing RVP, a key topic raised by Growth Energy in comments to the agency earlier this week. These efforts are also backed by several U.S. governors and widely supported by the nation’s top fuel retailers.

“There is no reason for the current RVP burden that blocks retailers, like us, from offering our customers less expensive, earth-friendlier fuel choices year-round,” said Steve Walk, chief operating officer of Protec Fuel. “The Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act is a common-sense policy that lifts this decades-old rule to allow fuel retailers to offer E15 during the summer driving season and provide our customers a consistent option at the pump that contains higher octane for a lower price.”

“This long-overdue fix simply holds E15 to the same standard as conventional blends, which means more affordable options for our customers and fewer baseless restrictions on retailers,” said Joel Hirschboeck, general manager of fuel procurement and marketing of Kwik Trip. “We plan to add E15 at more than 500 locations in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin over the next few years, and we want our customers to benefit from a full array of clean-burning choices all year long. For many drivers, E15 is a smart choice that can help cut costs while delivering more octane and fewer emissions.”