Some states looking to end prohibition of E15

By Matt Thompson | November 08, 2019

Following the first summer driving season during which the sale of E15 was allowed, there are still areas of the country where it’s not an option for consumers. But, Chris Bliley, vice president of regulatory affairs for Growth Energy, believes it’s only a matter of time before drivers can fuel up with E15 in states like California and New York.

New York, he said, is currently evaluating comments it received after announcing a rulemaking to allow E15 earlier this year. “They took comments through the end of September, and right now they’re evaluating those comments and we’re hopeful that they can complete the rulemaking by the end of the year,” Bliley said, adding that the state is the fourth-largest gasoline market in the country. “It can offer real opportunity once the regulation’s finalized,” he said.

California, he said, is in the beginning stages of exploring how to allow E15. “They just held a workshop a couple weeks ago where they indicated that they’re going to be looking at E15,” Bliley said. He said early indications are that the state will aim for approving the sale of E15 in 2021.

Bliley said that while California and New York are the biggest markets that currently exclude E15, Montana, Nevada, Delaware and portions of Arizona also don’t allow the sale of the fuel. There are also no retailers in Oregon selling the blend, and there is debate about whether the states regulations allow the fuel or not.

Change will likely come from retailers who express interest in the fuel, Bliley said. “Where there’s been retail interest, I think everybody’s been in more direct engagement with the regulators,” he said. “As we see more and more retail interest in some of these states, you can certainly see action.”

While the details have yet to be released, there may be some assistance available for some retailers looking to expand E15. U.S. Deputy Agriculture Secretary Stephen Censky recently announced the USDA is working to on an infrastructure development program. Bliley said that program has the potential to entice more areas to offer E15. “USDA’s going to have to go through their process and whatever the funding may or may not be, that would certainly pique some interest of retailers and states alike, I would think,” he said.

Growth Energy has been working on expanding E15 sales to areas like California and New York, but the big push is on E15 in general. “I think the big push is on E15 broadly. How can we accelerate the market for E15? How can we get more gallons out?” Bliley said. He said the retailers Growth Energy works with sell about 19 billion gallons of gasoline, and there are nearly 2,000 locations in 30 states that offer E15.