As of last week, the restriction on summertime E15 sales has finally expired for 2016, making consumer choice once again a priority for fuel retailers.
The end of EPA’s “volatility control season” was Thursday, September 15.
In 2011, EPA approved the use of E15 in 2001 and newer vehicles, but the agency did not allow E15 to benefit from the 1-pound per square inch (psi) Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver that is available to E10 blends. As a result of this disparity, retailers in conventional gasoline areas (most of the country) would have to secure specialty gasoline blendstocks in order to continue selling E15 in the summer. Such gasoline blendstock is generally unavailable in conventional gasoline areas and would be uneconomical to ship. EPA has jurisdiction over gasoline volatility from June 1–Sept. 15 every year.
E15 would be available to all consumers with vehicles 2001 model year and newer, giving most Americans an opportunity to purchase higher octane fuel at a lower price while feeling good about the cleaning burning fuel and its impact on the environment. The lack of an RVP waiver all but prevents its availability.
“In 1989, EPA provided an RVP waiver to 10 percent ethanol blends, concluding there would be no air quality consequence and retailers would otherwise be unable to secure blendstocks for ethanol blending year-round,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Those same circumstances exist for E15. Indeed, as data submitted by RFA to EPA has shown, emissions from E15 are even lower than E10 and consumers would benefit all year long from a fuel that is higher octane, lower cost and cleaner.”
Illinois Corn Growers Association continues to work on this legislative barrier to an increased ethanol market. Moving to E15 would create at least 1.44 billion bushels of market opportunity for corn farmers.