On May 31, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler signed a final rule that allows the year-round sale of E15 gasoline. This is partially a measure to boost ethanol sales amid a struggling planting season, with nearly 36% of total corn production in the U.S. going to ethanol. Previous regulations had kept the fuel unavailable during the summer hours due to smog concerns, but the new ruling will lift those bans.
“Following President [Donald] Trump’s directive, this action expands the market for biofuels and improves the RFS program by increasing transparency and reducing price manipulation,” Wheeler said. “As President Trump promised, EPA is approving the year-round sale of E15 in time for summer driving season, giving drivers more choices at the pump.”
The ruling was not without its controversy, with advocates from both sides of the issue bringing their arguments to the table. Ted Mottaz of the Illinois Corn Growers Assn. had the following to say: “This is a clear win for consumers, a clear win for corn farmers, and a clear win for air quality improvements as ethanol provides a low-carbon source of octane. We have long held the position that EPA has the legal authority based on congressional intent and precedent to make this decision. Our corn farmers are experiencing a perfect storm of economic and weather difficulties. This is a sign that the skies could be clearing.”
Chet Thompson, President & CEO of American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, said the following: “The E15 partial waivers have been controversial and were opposed by many groups, including refiners, automakers, small equipment and boat manufacturers, boat owners, motorcycle groups, food groups and the environmental community. Under the Clean Air Act, EPA does not have the authority to grant such a partial waiver. The agency cannot approve E15 for use in only some — but not all — engines.”