The seasonal limitations on the sale of E15 fuel (the blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline) are about to end, and the corn industry is thrilled. Beginning Sunday, Sept. 16, E15 will again be available for model year 2001 and newer cars, light-duty trucks, SUVs, and all flex-fuel vehicles.
“E15 typically costs 3 to 10 cents less than regular E10 gasoline and offers more environmental benefits, making it a common-sense choice for many drivers,” said Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association. “When consumers benefit from choice, it makes no sense than an outdated regulation prevents E15 from being sold in many areas for three and a half months of the year.”
This coincides with the USDA’s recent announcement that it is expecting near-record level corn production this year.
But why is there a summer block on selling E15, which has been approved by the EPA since 2012?
Ethanol Producer Magazine explained in a 2016 article, “Retailers are largely prohibited from selling E15 from June 1 through Sept. 15 because the fuel blend is not currently covered by the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) volatility waiver that allows E10 to be sold during that same timeframe.”
Though efforts have been made to extend the waiver to E15, that has yet to happen.
In lobbying to extend the waiver, the NGCA says that the EPA “made the current regulatory interpretation long before E15 became an approved fuel in 2011. … Providing the same RVP treatment for E15 as EPA currently applies to E10 would enable year-round sales of E15 without impacting evaporative emissions because E15 and other blends greater than 10 percent have lower emissions.”
E15 is currently sold at more than 1400 stations in 30 states.