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Home » Business News/Analysis, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Agency, Federal Legislation, Federal Regulation, Iowa, Opinions, Policy

Iowa Ethanol Supporters Push for Expanded E15 Access

Submitted by on July 7, 2017 – 1:42 pmNo Comment

by Rod Swoboda (Wallaces Farmer)  Proponents call on Congress to support legislation to remove barriers to make E15 ethanol blend available year-round.  —  The U.S. Senate is considering legislation that would change the language in a federal regulation that currently restricts the use of ethanol-blended fuels containing over 10% ethanol during summer months. The Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (S. 517) would lift the summertime restriction on E15 sales. E15 is a high-octane fuel that’s 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline.

The proposed bill would change the wording in the Clean Air Act dealing with Reid vapor pressure (RVP), which measures the volatility of gasoline and gasoline-ethanol blends. 

Currently, during summer driving months (June 1 to Sept. 15), fuel retailers cannot offer E15 to nonflex fuel vehicles (FFVs) because it violates the RVP limits, set by the law. “This is an arcane regulatory barrier,” says Kurt Hora, president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association.

In 1990, Congress limited the amount of evaporative emissions from vehicle fuel at 9 pounds per square inch (psi) RVP. Pure ethanol has a 3-psi RVP, only when combined with gasoline at low levels, does the RVP of ethanol blended fuel exceed 9 psi. Despite E15 having a lower RVP profile than E10, E10 has been granted a 1-pound-per-psi RVP waiver, while E15 has not received the same treatment.

E15 produces lower emissions than regular gasoline, and E15 can be sold year-round in areas with air quality challenges. Using E15 nationwide would reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions by 39.5 million tons, the equivalent of removing 6.3 million vehicles from American roadways.

Shaw (Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuel Association) adds, “This bill isn’t about approving E15. E15 has already been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use in all model year 2001 and newer vehicles. E15 can be sold year-round in reformulated gasoline markets and for eight and a half months of the year in conventional gasoline areas. This bill would only remove the idiotic regulatory quirk that freezes out E15 sales during the summer season in conventional gasoline areas.”

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