Allowing year-round sales of E15, as EPA is proposing, will benefit consumers nationwide by providing a more environmentally friendly, homegrown and lower-cost fuel option, the American Farm Bureau Federation said in recent comments to the agency.
“Year-round E15 sales would also further fuel the economic success story that renewable fuels have provided for rural America, contributing jobs in the areas of the country that need it most and increasing incomes for America’s farmers,” the organization said.
Under current regulations, most conventional gasoline retailers have to secure specialty gasoline blendstocks in order to continue selling E15, a gasoline blend that is 15% ethanol, from June 1 to Sept. 15 each year, when summer gasoline specifications are in effect. But with the blendstocks largely unavailable, the expansion of E15 has been severely restricted.
“More than 1,700 retail locations in 30 states already offer drivers the choice of E15, a number that is expected to increase after this antiquated policy is updated and no longer holds back consumer choice,” Farm Bureau noted.
By treating E15 the same as standard 10% ethanol blends, consumers will have a choice at the pump that costs 3 to 10 cents less per gallon than conventional gasoline. Consumers will also benefit from the lower greenhouse gas emissions that come with E15, as well as the stability that a homegrown fuel source provides.
“While oil prices have been stable in recent years, the historical volatility of these markets is important to consider. Developing a comprehensive, domestic energy source is a critical hedge against foreign sources of energy market volatility, as well as geopolitical disruptions,” the group said.
Year-round E15 sales would give the entire biofuels industry a boost.
“Implementation of year-round E15 sales will help spur investment in cleaner, domestic fuels and the infrastructure necessary to accommodate higher biofuel blends. The [Renewable Fuels Standard] was designed to give American consumers more choices at the pump and lower gas prices, and to utilize biofuel as more than just a gasoline additive with octane-boosting value,” Farm Bureau said.
The organization also stressed the importance of EPA completing the rulemaking before June 1 to allow E15 sales to continue without interruption. At the same time, EPA must get this final rule right and not create new obstacles to greater ethanol blending.
“For this reason, Farm Bureau urges EPA to ensure proposed RIN market reforms are fair to those who are blending biofuels to further the goals of the Renewable Fuel Standard and do not tip the scale to favor refiners that choose not to blend biofuels. EPA should ensure that the RIN reforms do not weigh down the E15 rule,” the group emphasized.