Dec 19, 2023
The U.S. EPA on Dec. 18 delivered its final rule to allow year-round E15 sales in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin to the White House Office of Management and Budget. OMB reviews marks a final step before a rulemaking is promulgated.
Several Midwestern governors in April 2022 filed petitions with the EPA requesting that the agency remove the 1-psi Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver for summer gasoline-ethanol blended fuels, which would effectively allow E15 to be sold year-round within their states.
The EPA is required by statute to respond to such petitions within 90 days but, to date, has failed to take final action. The agency released a proposed rule to implement the requested change in February 2023. A comment period on the proposed rule was open through April 20. The agency has now submitted the final rule for OMB review. Information released by OMB indicates the target issue date for the final rule is “to be determined,” but the agency has stated as part of an ongoing lawsuit that it currently plans to promulgate the final rule next spring.
That ongoing lawsuit was filed by the attorneys general of Iowa and Nebraska on Aug. 7 over the agency’s failure to respond to the Midwest E15 petitions. Documents filed as part of that ongoing lawsuit indicate that the EPA currently plans to issue a final rule by March 28, 2024.
The Renewable Fuels Association is urging the OMB to quickly finalize the rulemaking. “We are relieved to see that this rule has finally moved forward to the White House for review,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the RFA. “OMB review marks the final step in this long and arduous regulatory process. We are urging OMB to move quickly to finalize the Governors’ request so that the marketplace will have adequate lead time to continue preparing for implementation in 2024. Swift completion of this rule will ensure drivers in these eight Midwest states enjoy cleaner air and have uninterrupted, year-round access to lower-cost, lower-carbon E15 in 2024 and every year after that.
“While we strongly support the action being taken by these eight Midwestern states, the optimal solution for the marketplace is a permanent legislative fix that applies nationwide,” Cooper continued. “As a first order of business in the new year, we urge Congress to expeditiously adopt the Nationwide Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act to provide the market certainty and stability that the entire nation is looking for.”
The American Coalition for Ethanol is also calling on OMB to move quickly with its review of the rule. "We are gratified EPA has at long last sent the final rule to allow Midwest states to offer E15 on a year-round basis,” said Brian Jennings, CEO of ACE. “Despite the upcoming Christmas holiday, we urge OMB to quickly perform its closing review so the final rule can be issued early in 2024. All market participants, including but not limited to retailers, wholesalers, terminal operators and refineries, should expect and plan for this rule to take effect in the eight states for the 2024 summer driving season and plan accordingly."
Growth Energy expressed gratitude that the rulemaking is moving forward. “This is a welcome step forward for farmers and drivers across the Midwest,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “We’re grateful to the governors of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin for pressing for uninterrupted access to low-cost, low-carbon E15, and we’ll continue to call on EPA and the White House to grant year-round E15 nationwide. Biofuels like E15 are a critical part of reaching our climate goals, and we urge President Biden to swiftly approve the expanded sale of E15.”
Additional information is available on the OMB website.
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