Washington state—An Opportunity for Higher Ethanol Blends

FROM THE NOVEMBER ISSUE: Washington adopted the Clean Air Rule on Sept. 15, 2016, to cap and ultimately reduce GHG emissions.
By Emily Skor | October 18, 2017

Our industry appropriately focuses on the big fights and the big opportunities. We know that we must have a strong Renewable Fuel Standard that continues to drive demand and innovation. We need Reid vapor pressure (RVP) relief for E15 to inject a massive shot of adrenaline into the already rapidly growing E15 market. We are working with the auto industry to embrace mid-level blends to meet rising fuel economy standards. And we must have a U.S. government that looks out for our global interests and works with us to break down trade barriers and protect our access to current and new markets.

These keystone issues are critical to our continued prosperity and require significant time, energy and resources. In addition, there is a host of less visible yet extremely important initiatives and work streams that help build demand in other ways. These efforts warrant some conversation every now and then so we appreciate that there is value not just in opening up national markets—but state markets too. 

Growth Energy is constantly exploring every opportunity to advance the ethanol industry through state-level regulatory work. We’re looking to make certain that emerging fuel and cap-and-trade policies are designed to harness the climate benefits of ethanol. For example, we are engaged in a promising initiative in the state of Washington that may allow us to introduce E15 into that market to aid compliance with the state’s new greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations.

Washington adopted the Clean Air Rule on Sept. 15, 2016, to cap and ultimately reduce GHG emissions. The CAR is administered by the Washington Department of Ecology, and the obligated parties under the rule fall into two categories: stationary sources (power plants and other manufacturing facilities) and fuel suppliers. Stationary sources are facilities that emit at least 10,000 metric tons of GHGs per year in the state, and fuel suppliers are defined as suppliers of liquid motor vehicle fuel that provide products equivalent to at least 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year.

Growth Energy has been engaged with Washington State regulators at the Department of Ecology for over a year to ensure higher biofuel blends are part of the solution to the state’s climate goals. Chris Bliley, Growth Energy vice president of Regulatory Affairs, has coordinated the efforts of his regulatory team and legal counsel to work with Washington to see that the state turns to the widespread blending of E15 to receive significant credits toward its GHG reduction targets. A widespread move to E15 is a potential path to compliance for companies in Washington state that would allow them to comply with the program and immediately reduce their CO2e outputs.

Washington boasts a 2.8 billion-gallon gasoline market, and 289 million gallons of ethanol were blended into its fuel supply in 2015. While Washington isn’t the largest market, a complete statewide move to E15 could mean as much as 140 million additional gallons of ethanol would be blended, which would be a boon for our industry and for the climate-conscious Pacific Northwest state. Growth Energy will continue its engagement with state regulators in Washington and maintain an open dialogue about the role biofuels can play in achieving climate reduction benchmarks. And, this important work in Washington accompanies a number of other ongoing state-level engagements that round out a comprehensive drive toward seeing more gallons of ethanol in the fuel supply and higher demand for our product. By thinking strategically and taking a seat at the table before the opposition, we will blaze a trail for growth that will pay dividends for decades to come.

We are fighting a battle on many fronts—at the federal legislative level, in the court of public opinion at the consumer level, and deep in the state regulatory weeds. No matter the audience, our message always carries the same underlying principle—biofuels like ethanol are moving America forward today, and will continue to do so in the future.

Author: Emily Skor
CEO, Growth Energy