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EPA Grants Emergency Waiver for E-15 Fuel Sales Amid Supply Concerns
EPA Grants Emergency Waiver for E-15 Fuel Sales Amid Supply Concerns

EPA Grants Emergency Waiver for E-15 Fuel Sales Amid Supply Concerns

  • 22-Apr-2024 12:41 PM
  • Journalist: Motoki Sasaki

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is set to release an emergency fuel waiver on April 19, permitting the sale of E15 gasoline, a blend containing 15% ethanol, throughout the summer driving season.

This measure aims to alleviate pressure on consumers at gas stations due to persistent market supply challenges resulting from the Ukraine conflict and Middle East tensions. By expanding fuel availability and offering a range of gasoline blends, communities will benefit. This waiver seeks to mitigate the impact of fuel supply disruptions by decreasing dependence on imported fossil fuels, thus reinforcing U.S. energy autonomy while backing American agriculture and industry. On average, E15 is approximately $0.25 cheaper per gallon than E10, providing consumers with cost savings.

"President Biden's administration, under the guidance of Administrator Michael S. Regan, is actively addressing fuel supply uncertainties stemming from international conflicts by broadening consumer options at gas stations," stated Administrator Michael S. Regan. "Allowing the sale of E15 during the summer driving season will enhance fuel accessibility, support American agricultural sectors, strengthen national energy security, and provide relief to drivers across the nation."

In accordance with the Clean Air Act, the EPA Administrator, in collaboration with the Department of Energy, possesses the authority to temporarily suspend specific fuel mandates in response to shortages. Given the ongoing challenges in gasoline supply, Administrator Regan has identified extraordinary and abnormal fuel supply circumstances, leading to the granting of a temporary waiver to ensure sufficient gasoline availability. Following the guidelines of the Clean Air Act, both the EPA and DOE conducted a thorough assessment of the situation, concluding that granting the waiver serves the public interest.

At present, E15 faces restrictions in around two-thirds of the nation, prohibiting sales from terminals beginning May 1 and at retail stations from June 1. To alleviate this, the EPA is extending the existing 1-psi Reid Vapor Pressure waiver, currently applicable to E10 gasoline, to include E15. This extension will enable potential E15 sales throughout the summer driving season in these regions. It's important to note that this extension applies solely to areas where the 1-psi waiver already exists for E10. Notably, E15 is already permitted for year-round sales in regions with a Reformulated Gasoline program in place.

As both E10 and E15 gasoline will share the same Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) when utilized by consumers, the EPA anticipates no discernible effect on air quality from this specific measure. Extensive research conducted by the EPA indicates that extending the 1-psi waiver to E15 has negligible impact on evaporative emissions. Given the absence of significant effects on emissions from vehicles, the EPA assures consumers that the use of E15 during the summer months will not adversely affect air quality, enabling them to continue using E15 without apprehension.

The EPA's emergency fuel waiver will become effective on May 1, stepping in at a crucial juncture when terminal operators would otherwise cease E15 sales in the impacted regions of the country. This waiver will remain in force until May 20, adhering to the statutory maximum duration of 20 days. The EPA will maintain vigilant oversight over the supply situation in collaboration with industry and federal partners. Furthermore, the Agency anticipates issuing additional waivers to effectively prolong the emergency fuel waiver until the conditions of extreme and unusual fuel supply challenges, arising from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the Middle East, subside.

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