News & Ideas

ACE reminds retailers annual E15 restrictions soon lifted

Sioux Falls, SD (September 14, 2017) –The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is reminding retailers they can resume offering E15 to drivers of all gasoline-powered 2001 and newer passenger vehicles after the low-Reid vapor pressure (RVP) season ends Sept. 15. EPA rules controlling maximum RVP effectively ban the sale of lower-cost, higher-octane E15 from June 1 through Sept. 15 in most of the U.S., even though E15 has a lower RVP and lower emissions than the gasoline sold in those markets each summer.

The industry is as close as it’s ever been to getting RVP relief for E15 and higher blends thanks to bipartisan leadership in Congress and a new way of thinking at EPA, and ACE hopes that this is the last time the organization needs to remind retailers of the end of the RVP restriction.

As Congress reconvenes this fall, ACE will continue to urge Senators to keep exploring ways to enact RVP legislation(S. 517 and H.R. 1311), and Administrator Pruitt is examining legal options for RVP relief at EPA. Record growth and investment in retail infrastructure for flex fuels has occurred over the past two years, with nearly 1,000 locations in 29 states selling E15, and 90 percent of the vehicle market able to use the fuel.ACE emphasizes that it’s important to double down on efforts to make this commonsense RVP fix, with expanding E15 availability and both legislative and administrative options on the table.  

It appeared that the end of the low-RVP season came early this year for many areas, as a result of efforts to address fuel shortages caused by Hurricane Harvey. In an Aug. 31 letter, EPA granted designated states emergency waivers from summer RVP regulations. However, because EPA did not expand the one-pound RVP waiver to blends beyond 10 percent ethanol, gasoline meeting the higher allowable RVP could not be used for E15. In its expansion of the waiver, EPA clarified that retailers would still have to comply with the federal rules associated with selling E15, which includes a registration process and wait for EPA approval that would unlikely be completed before the Sept. 15 end of the low-RVP season.

“Unless a retailer had already planned on marketing E15 in September or was already marketing it in June when the low-RVP season started, it would be virtually impossible to utilize the fuel early,” said Ron Lamberty, ACE Senior Vice President. “Whether an oversight or planned, there was no extension of the one-pound waiver, and it was a missed opportunity. We’re hopeful with the end of the low-RVP season upon us, we can get some traction on this issue.”

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