Year-round E15 ethanol looking more likely

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Ethanol sign
Farm and Dairy file photo.

WASHINGTON — The year-round sales of E15 ethanol will become a little more feasible if a new proposal by the U.S. EPA is successful.

On March 12, the EPA proposed regulatory changes that would allow gasoline blended with up to 15 percent ethanol (E15) to take advantage of the same volatility waiver, known as the 1-psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver, that historically had only been available for E10.

Ozone control

Summer sales of E15 have historically been limited, because of the summer ozone control season, and concerns over volatility. The waiver will allow E15 to be sold the same as E10 during summer months, and the EPA is also proposing some changes related to the renewable identification number (RIN) compliance system, under the Renewable Fuel Standard, to “enhance transparency in the market and deter price manipulation.”

“Consistent with President (Donald) Trump’s direction, EPA is working to propose and finalize these changes by the summer driving season,” said Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We will be holding a public hearing at the end of this month to gather important feedback.”

Under the proposed expansion, E15 would be allowed to be sold year-round without additional RVP control, rather than just eight months of the year.

Public comment

The EPA welcomes public comment on the proposal, and will hold a public hearing March 29, with additional comment information to be posted shortly.

Farm groups generally praised the proposal, as something that will be good for the corn ethanol market, and for the environment.

The National Corn Growers Association said the proposal is a sign of “great progress,” and that its corn-growing members will be providing comments in support.

“Allowing year-round sales of higher blends of ethanol not only grows a domestic market for farmers, but E15 gives consumers more choice at the pump, a lower price option and greater environmental benefits from a cleaner fuel,” said NCGA President Lynn Chrisp. “It’s time to remove the barrier to all of these benefits.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation said the changes will make E15 sales more available year-round, while providing greater energy independence.

“As our country has worked to break our dependence on foreign oil, our farmers have played a major role in helping us become more energy independent. After years of declining farm income, opening up markets to additional fuel choices will help create new demand that farmers desperately need. We look forward to working with EPA to successfully implement year-round E15 sales.”

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