Farmers and Ethanol Workers Call for E15 Waiver

Cindy Zimmerman

Nearly 1,000 farmers, ethanol industry workers, and other supporters from across the country sent a letter to President Biden this week calling for action to allow continued access to E15 throughout the upcoming summer driving season.

“With the 2024 summer driving season just a few months away, we are urging your administration to take additional action that will ensure consumers across the nation have uninterrupted access to lower-cost, lower-carbon E15,” the letter states. “Allowing gasoline blenders and retailers to sell E15 this summer would help moderate prices at the pump, extend fuel supplies, and deliver relief to American families at a time of year when gasoline prices typically are at their highest. Today, E15 is selling for 10- 25 cents per gallon less than standard E10 gasoline, allowing the average American household to save $125-200 on its annual gasoline bill.” (Read the letter)

According to a Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) analysis of data released by state agencies in Minnesota and Iowa, total U.S. sales of E15 (15% ethanol fuel) are estimated to have hit a record 1.11 billion gallons in 2023, up 8% over 2022. The increase was due to a combination of an expansion in the number of retail stations offering E15 and the savings that E15 continued to offer to consumers.

A key reason why the average E15 volume per station has increased over the last five years is that sales have been allowed during the summer months in conventional gasoline areas. However, if the administration does not take action within the next month, E15 sales will drop precipitously in most of the country this summer, as occurred in conventional gasoline areas prior to 2019. In February of this year, EPA granted a petition from eight Midwest governors to allow year-round sales of E15. However, the petition only applies to those eight states and does not go into effect until 2025.

RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper says right now the only practical solution this summer is for waivers to be issued again by EPA as it has done in the past two years due to market conditions. “And frankly the market conditions that justified those waivers last year and two years ago still exist and in fact, you could argue that the the circumstances are worse,” said Cooper. “We have actually lower inventories of crude oil and petroleum products today than we had a year ago or two years ago. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve remains at a 40 plus year low. You’ve still got the the situation in Ukraine and now you’ve got a situation in the Middle East that is affecting global global energy markets.”

RFA joined several other organizations last week in sending a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan urging him to act swiftly on an emergency waiver for E15 sales.

Listen to Cooper’s comments on the need for a waiver.
RFA CEO Geoff Cooper need for E15 waiver 1:43

Audio, Corn, EPA, Ethanol, RFA