The right to choose E15

We are in the golden age of choice. When it comes to movies, music, food, and news, we can customize and choose what’s of most interest to us. Thanks to the Renewable Fuel Standard, consumers can choose at the gasoline pump too, opting to use 10 percent ethanol in their vehicles to help lower gasoline prices, increase energy security, clean the air, and boost local economies.

Unfortunately, beginning today, a nonsensical barrier prevents drivers in much of the country from using a higher ethanol blend during the summer months. As a consequence, consumers will be needlessly hamstrung both in fuel choice and ways to save money at the pump at a time when summer gasoline prices are at four-year highs.

{mosads}From June 1-Sept. 15, retail gasoline stations in more than two-thirds of the nation’s gasoline market are unable to sell E15 (15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gasoline). Because gasoline vaporizes more quickly in hot weather, the Environmental Protection Agency requires special gasoline blends in the summer to reduce vapors that create ozone. The EPA standards are based on a measurement of a fuel blend’s volatility, which reflects its ability to vaporize. In 1988, EPA granted a waiver for blends with 10 percent ethanol that register slightly above the agency’s volatility standard after concluding ethanol’s lower exhaust emissions more than offset the impact of slightly higher evaporative emissions. However, the agency has yet to grant the same waiver to E15, even though volatility and emissions decrease as the amount of ethanol in the blended fuel increases from 10 percent.

The de facto ban on summertime E15 sales in much of the country is the result of this arbitrary, decades-old EPA regulation that provides no environmental benefit

President Trump has promised to drain the swamp of cumbersome and unnecessary regulations that have hampered growth. The summertime ban on E15 is a perfect example of the bureaucratic red tape that is constraining future growth and preventing consumers from greater choice at the pump. In recent comments, the president called the E15 restriction “unnecessary and ridiculous,” vowing that his administration will soon approve year-round access. I applaud the president for understanding how ridiculous and nonsensical it is to limit E15 during the summer.

EPA’s actions are costing consumers both choice at the pump AND money in their pockets. On top of already high gasoline prices, consumers who are blocked from accessing E15 are spending at least an extra 7 cents per gallon on gasoline, translating into $6 billion–or approximately $80 per household–on a national basis, according to a recent Renewable Fuels Association analysis. That’s money that could be better spent on family vacations and other summertime activities.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been miraculously quick to address regulatory issues raised by refiners, and unimaginatively creative in finding ways to ease their burden. But at the same time, the Oklahoman has been frustratingly slow in addressing this obvious regulatory barrier that, if removed, would help farmers and consumers alike.

EPA needs to follow the president’s instructions and lift the summertime restriction on E15. That would put consumers in the driver’s seat, giving them greater choice to use a cleaner, cheaper and higher-octane fuel regardless of the time of year.

Bob Dinneen is president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association.

Tags Donald Trump E10 E15 Ethanol Renewable Fuel Standard Scott Pruitt

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