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High Plains Journal

A group of 15 United States senators penned a bipartisan letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt April 30 outlining the benefits of selling E-15 year round. The letter comes after President Donald Trump delivered remarks earlier this month in support of a year-round waiver for E-15.

In their letter, the senators make two specific requests. First, they ask the EPA Administrator to provide an expected timeline for an administrative Reid Vapor Pressure or RVP waiver. Second, they request the agency allow for the sale of E-15 during the upcoming summer driving season in the meantime.

“We write today regarding President Trump’s recent commitment to allow for 15 percent ethanol blends, E-15 to be sold year around,” the letter said. “We also seek information and a transparent timeline from you on the regulatory pathway forward to address the Reid Vapor Pressure issue in the wake of the president’s announcement.

“Collectively, we are long-time supporters of the effort to address the RVP issue and make E-15 available year around across the United States. Allowing an open marketplace with more fuel options for consumers encourages competition and drives down consumer fuel costs. Moreover, E-15 lowers evaporative and tailpipe emissions when compared to 10 percent ethanol fuel, improving the environment. Resolving this issue also provides a pathway to increase farm income at a time when producers are struggling with a depressed farm economy, low commodity prices and tight margins.

“Congress never intended the RVP waiver to effectively be a market cap on the amount of ethanol blended in gasoline. Rather, this provision was intended to provide a pathway for ethanol to grow and thrive in the fuel marketplace when it was passed in 1990. The current interpretation is outdated and has created an untenable regulatory barrier to E-15 as a readily available option for motorists. As the fuel marketplace has changed over the past 28 years since the RVP waiver for 10 percent ethanol blends was first approved, this provision needs to change as well.

“First, we ask you to provide an expected timeline of the rulemaking process to clarify how the agency will make this change to allow higher ethanol blends access to the market place. Additionally, we ask that you provide immediate clarity to allow higher ethanol blends to be sold in the interim while the outdated regulation is being changed.

“Doing this will fulfill the president’s commitment to allow consumer’s access to these fuels year-round, expand consumer choice and eliminate confusion at the pump.”

Signers of the letter were Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-IA; Deb Fischer, R-NE; Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND; Amy Klobuchar, D-MN; Ben Sasse, R-NE; Mike Rounds, R-SD; Roy Blunt, R-MO; Dick Durbin, D-IL; Tammy Duckworth, D-IL; John Thune, R-SD; Joni Ernst, R-IA; Tammy Baldwin, D-WI; John Hoeven, R-ND; Tina Smith, D-MN; Joe Donnelly, D-IN; Pat Roberts, R-KS; Claire McCaskill, D-MO; and Jerry Moran, R-KS.

In a release, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor thanked the senators, saying, “The president understands that lifting outdated government regulations restricting the year- round sale of E-15 is the right path forward, and given the explosion of small refinery waivers by EPA, year-round sales should not require any refinery-driven trade-off,” Skor said.

“We continue to be grateful to our champions in Congress for pushing the EPA to make good on the president’s commitment to year-round E-15 sales. Lifting these barriers will create a new market for surplus crops, while strengthening our energy security and delivering a jolt to the rural economy.”

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