(The Center Square) – Several Iowa elected officials are pushing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to allow year-round sales of 15 percent ethanol (E15) to decrease gas prices.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller joined Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt in an April 1 letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan that asked the agency to waive the 9-psi Reid vapor pressure limit for the gas for the 2022 summer ozone control season (June 1 through September 15).
“Doing so will give the citizens of our states relief from the volatile and record-high gas prices, including price increases caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” they said in the letter.
With the waiver, pump prices and overall tailpipe emissions would decrease, they said.
“E15 retail prices are currently significantly below the prices for E10 or gas without ethanol,” the letter said. “And E15 has lower emissions than E10, which is allowed a 1-pound per square inch (psi) RVP waiver. Allowing the higher blend of ethanol also would support our nation’s efforts toward reducing our dependence on foreign oil – especially during this time of global instability.”
Air-quality regulations prevent selling E15 from June 1 to Sept. 15 in much of the United States, but the EPA can authorize the sale when “extreme or unusual fuel or fuel additive supply circumstances exist,” a news release from Miller’s office said.
Iowa and Kansas are among the nation’s top ethanol producers.
The Iowa House of Representatives is currently considering the Committee on Ways and Means’ agriculture omnibus bill, which proposes raising the minimum octane rating for premium grade gasoline from 90 octane to 91 octane, and eliminating the requirement that a motor fuel dispenser be labeled as dispending E-10, E-15 or biodiesel blended fuel.
Last Thursday, U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, joined by U.S. Reps. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, and Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa and several other members of Congress, wrote to President Joe Biden urging him to permanently reinstate year-round availability of E15 and ask the EPA to stop its proposed retroactive reduction to 2020 and 2021 Renewable Volume Obligations and instead adhere to the Renewable Fuel Standard’s statutory obligations.
The letter praised Biden for banning importing Russian fuel and asked him to take their proposed action to increase U.S. energy independence, lower gas prices and promote success of sanctions on Russia.
They said that in the past 10 years, wholesale ethanol, compared with wholesale gasoline, has saved consumers 17 percent, and that the country shifting to E15 could save U.S. consumers more than $12 billion each year and support rural communities.
“Ensuring the year-round availability of E15 would support an additional 182,600 jobs and generate an additional $17.8 billion in economic activity,” the letter said. “Because ethanol production involves U.S. farmers and processing plants located in rural communities, these benefits would be most directly felt in rural America.”
About 8 percent of U.S. imports of oil and refined petroleum products come from Russia and enabling E15 to be sold year-round could replace up to 5 percent of the U.S. transportation sector’s liquid petroleum-based gas with domestic biofuels, they said in the letter.
“Protecting the RFS from retroactive reductions will ensure that biodiesel can fill liquid energy deficiencies created by trade and market instability,” the letter said.