Congressional ethanol advocates are planning to ramp up their efforts to secure year-round sales of E15 nationwide this fall by attaching it to one of this year’s “must-pass” bills, one ethanol group CEO says.

Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol, told Agri-Pulse at the association’s annual conference in Minneapolis that Congress’s annual appropriations package or the upcoming farm bill could provide vehicles for E15-supporting lawmakers to pass the legislation.

Seventeen senators introduced the Consumer and Retailer Choice Act of 2023, which would permanently extend the Reid Vapor Pressure volatility waiver to ethanol blends higher than 10%. The bill’s supporters include Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

A companion bill was introduced in the House in March by Reps. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., Angie Craig, D-Minn., and Dusty Johnson, R-S.D. 

Jennings told Agri-Pulse he’s unsure what bill the lawmakers might try to use. He questioned whether the farm bill would be done by the end of the year, but said it's possible the measure could get attached to an extension of the current farm bill.

“We don’t have a preference where an E15 bill hitches a ride,” Jennings said. “We’ll let members of Congress sort that out. But our goal is to mobilize enough support for it on both sides of the aisle that we can hitch a ride on another must-pass bill before the end of the year.”

The EPA must currently grant temporary emergency supply waivers for E15 — a blend of 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline — to be sold at pumps during the summer, due to a higher risk of fuel volatility in hot weather. E10, which contains 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline, is allowed to be sold year-round under a waiver in the Clean Air Act.

Brian JenningsBrian Jennings, American Coalition for Ethanol

The Trump administration previously tried to use regulatory action to allow summer sales of E15, but its proposal was struck down in the courts. The agency has approved temporary waivers each summer since, though some lawmakers like Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, say this process lacks enough certainty for the industry since gas stations are left wondering whether they’ll be able to continue selling E15 in subsequent summers.

“There shouldn’t be this much drama and uncertainty when it comes to securing the year-round sale of E15 every year,” Craig said in a prerecorded message at the conference.

The governors of Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin are attempting a different method to allow for year-round sales by opting out of the Reid Vapor Pressure waiver program. They petitioned the agency in May 2022, prompting a proposal from EPA this March — too late for the 2023 driving season.

However, groups representing agricultural, ethanol and petroleum interests joined in a letter to congressional leaders last fall urging “uniformity” across the nation when it came to E15. They said approving permanent, year-round sales of E15 nationwide and nullifying the governors’ petitions would “provide more flexibility and result in more consistent outcomes than a state-by-state regulatory landscape.”

Harold Wolle, first vice president of the National Corn Growers Association, expressed confidence in the prospects of legislation to approve nationwide, year-round E15 sales.

“It's gonna happen,” he told Agri-Pulse Tuesday in an interview on the grounds of the Farm Progress Show. 

“The governor's petition puts the pressure on everyone,” Wolle added. “The oil companies don't want to be reformulating a certain brand or type of gasoline for the eight Midwestern states, so they're going to put pressure on Congress to get this year-round E15 bill passed.”

Jennings agreed, noting the nation's oil refiners “would rather not see these eight Midwest states have one set of rules apply to their gasoline blend stock versus the rest of the country” and are motivated to help produce a "national one-size-fits-all solution.”

Don't miss a beat! Sign up for a FREE month of Agri-Pulse news! For the latest on what’s happening in agriculture in Washington, D.C. and around the country, click here.

“We’ve got that wind at our back in terms of trying to get these bills moving,” he added.

In the proposed rule, EPA suggested that the state waivers take effect in April 2024.

Tim Walz.jpgMinnesota Gov. Tim Walz EPA said the reason for the delayed start date was due to concerns that a 2023 implementation “would result in insufficient supply of gasoline in the petitioning states.” The agency also said the industry would need time to prepare gasoline production and distribution infrastructure in response to the rule. 

The attorneys general of Iowa and Nebraska sued the agency earlier this month for not promulgating the regulations within 90 days of the governors’ request, saying in the lawsuit that the federal government “refuses to do its duty.” They argued in aletter to the EPAin March that not granting the waiver “creates uncertainty and confusion in the marketplace” and has the potential to result in “increased emissions and higher fuel prices for customers” if not addressed.

“At best, this delay is arbitrary and capricious, at worst it is plainly unlawful,” they wrote in the letter.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, one of the eight governors to sign the petition for year-round E15 sales, told Agri-Pulse at the Iowa State Fair earlier this month that he believes the EPA needs to move faster in approving the proposal. He added, however, that he doesn’t think the lawsuits are necessary.

“I don’t think it’s worth trying to embarrass them and sue them, but we’re asking them to get it done,” Walz said.

For more news, go to