By Jean-Paul MacDonald, Farms.com
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has granted an emergency waiver to allow E15 gasoline, a blend of 15% ethanol, to be sold across the country during the summer driving season for the fourth year in a row.
This waiver aims to increase fuel supply and offer consumers more options at the pump amid market supply issues caused by Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine. The EPA’s action will extend the 1-psi Reid Vapor Pressure waiver that currently applies to E10 gasoline to E15, allowing E15 sales throughout the summer driving season in affected regions.
The move is expected to reduce America's reliance on imported fossil fuels, bolster U.S. energy independence, support American agriculture and manufacturing, and offer relief to drivers across the country. E15 gasoline can already be sold year-round in some parts of the country that have a Reformulated Gasoline program, and EPA research shows no significant impact on evaporative emissions when the 1-psi waiver is extended to E15.
The Clean Air Act allows the EPA administrator, in consultation with the Department of Energy, to temporarily waive certain fuel requirements to address shortages, and EPA and DOE have evaluated the situation and determined that granting the waiver is in the public interest.
The EPA’s emergency fuel waiver will be in effect from May 1 to May 20, and the agency will continue to monitor the supply with industry and federal partners. The Biden-Harris administration
is committed to protecting Americans from fuel supply challenges resulting from the ongoing war in Ukraine and ensuring consumers have more choices at the pump, said EPA Administrator Michael Regan.
The letter sent by the EPA to governors whose states are impacted by the waiver also noted OPEC’s unexpected reduction in crude oil output, further constraining the market. Refining capacity in the U.S. has also been lower due to closures across the country since 2020.
Despite accelerated demand in the U.S., exports of U.S. gasoline are at the highest levels of the last five years, and U.S. gasoline demand is relatively strong compared to the five-year seasonal average. E15 has been sold year-round via waivers for the past four years, but outdated regulatory barriers continue to hinder permanent full-market access to E15.