The Environmental Protection Agency has followed through on a Biden administration pledge to use emergency action to give consumers access to E15.
The agency issued an emergency waiver Friday that will halt the June 1 restriction that was previously set to come into place for E15, a blend of gasoline and 15% ethanol. President Joe Biden announced the plans for such a move in an Iowa speech earlier this month, leaving EPA to make the emergency measure official.
In a statement, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said that with the help of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, he concluded “that it is necessary to take action to allow E15 sales during the summer driving season in order to minimize and prevent disruption of summertime fuel supply to consumers.”
Biden announced the move to soften the blow of higher gas prices following domestic inflation and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Existing law offers a waiver from Reid Vapor Pressure regulations for E10, but a federal court ruled last year that a Trump administration effort to expand that waiver to E15 was outside the bounds of the Clean Air Act.
The waiver will go into effect May 1 and will last 20 days, the maximum amount allowed by the statute. EPA says it will “continue to monitor the supply with industry and federal partners, and the Agency expects to issue new waivers effectively extending the emergency fuel waiver until such time as the extreme and unusual fuel supply circumstances due to the war in Ukraine are no longer present.”
Biofuel groups were quick to praise the news.
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“Extending the fuel supply with larger volumes of lower-cost, lower-carbon ethanol makes perfect sense, and we thank the Biden administration for turning to America’s farm fields for help instead of Saudi Arabia’s oil fields,” Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said in a statement.
Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said the group was “grateful to EPA Administrator Michael Regan for working quickly to fulfill President Biden’s commitment.”
“America is the world’s largest producer of biofuels, and we should be making use of our full capacity in the push for greater energy security and a healthy climate," she said. "Unfortunately, outdated restrictions that are unsupported by science and drafted before E15 was available stand in the way of allowing consumers to enjoy a cleaner, more affordable choice at the pump.”
The move will allow for the sale of the fuel this summer, but the industry and its allied lawmakers are also hoping to secure a permanent solution in time for summer 2023 sales. One such action took place Thursday when the governors of eight Midwestern states pressed Regan to put E10 and E15 under similar regulatory regimes.
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