December 07, 2023

Restrictions lifted for year-round E15 sales

MENLO, Iowa — A restriction on the use of E15 gasoline this summer was lifted by the Biden administration.

President Joe Biden announced during a visit to the POET Bioprocessing facility in Menlo, Iowa, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will issue a national emergency waiver. Without this action, E15 cannot be used in most of the country from June 1 to Sept. 15.

EPA has had rules in place during the summer to regulate Reid vapor pressure, the tendency for gasoline to evaporate and lead to smog. The EPA has had a longstanding waiver for E10 blends from the vapor pressure limit.

In implementing the emergency fuel waiver, EPA will work with states to ensure there are no significant air quality impacts through the summer driving season.

E15 is currently offered at 2,300 gas stations in 30 states. A link to locate stations selling the 15% ethanol blend is available on the Illinois Corn Growers Association website.

The national average price for E10 gasoline as of April 13 was $4.08 per gallon, according to AAA.

Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, estimates the savings for using E15 could range from 5 to 10 cents per gallon.

2001 And Newer

In 2011, EPA approved E15 for use in light-duty conventional vehicles of model year 2001 and newer, through a Clean Air Act waiver request, based on significant testing and research funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Stations are not required to sell E15, but some have started offering E15 due to state and federal incentives for upgrading equipment and better profit margins when compared with regular gasoline.

E10 remains the limit for passenger vehicles older than model year 2001 and for other non-road and small engines and vehicles that use gasoline, such as lawnmowers, motorcycles and boats.

Renewable Investments

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is also making the following investments as part of the planned outlined by Biden.

$5.6 million for infrastructure for renewable fuels through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program: USDA announced funding to build infrastructure to expand the availability of higher-blend renewable fuels by approximately 59.5 million gallons per year. States included in this investment are California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and South Dakota.

For example, in Illinois, Power Mart Express Corp. is receiving a $2.9 million grant to increase ethanol sales by 17.5 million gallons per year. This project will replace 293 dispensers and 30 storage tanks at 15 fueling stations in Chicago, Maywood, Cicero, Des Plaines and Wilmington.

$700 million for biofuels producers: As part of the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative, USDA is providing up to $700 million in funding through a new Biofuel Producer Program.

The program will support agricultural producers that rely on biofuels producers as a market for their agricultural products. By making payments to producers of biofuels, the funding will help maintain a viable and significant market for such agricultural products. Biofuel producers can expect awards before the end of April.

$100 million for biofuels infrastructure: USDA announced $100 million in new funding for grants for biofuels infrastructure to make it easier for gas stations to sell and to significantly increase the use of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel at the pump.

The funding will provide grants to refueling and distribution facilities for the cost of installation, retrofitting or otherwise upgrading of infrastructure required at a location to ensure the environmentally safe availability of fuel containing ethanol blends of E15 and greater or fuel containing biodiesel blends B-20 and greater.

USDA also will make funding available to support biofuels for railways as a means of assisting with supply chains and helping to reduce costs for consumer goods and transportation.

Spurring a new market in sustainable aviation fuels: USDA is partnering across the federal government to advance the use of cleaner and more sustainable fuels in transportation and investing billions of dollars in research and agricultural activities to improve aircraft fuel efficiency.

A new Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge was announced to inspire the dramatic increase in the production of sustainable aviation fuels to at least 3 billion gallons per year by 2030.

New and ongoing funding opportunities to support sustainable aviation fuel projects and fuel producers will total up to $4.3 billion.

Expanding use of canola oil: Efforts were also announced to expand supply and choices for other forms of fuel, such as diesel and jet fuel. EPA is proposing a new approval for canola oil that will add new pathways for fuels to participate in the Renewable Fuel Standard program to provide renewable diesel, jet fuel and other fuels.

Tom Doran

Tom C. Doran

Field Editor