Inhofe, Senators Urge Against Year-Round E-15

U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) led a bipartisan group of 20 Senators in urging the President to reject sale of year-round sale of 15 percent ethanol by volume (E15).

The letter was signed by Senators Ben Cardin, John Cornyn, Bob Menendez, John Barrasso, Tom Udall, Shelley Moore Capito, Joe Manchin, Orrin Hatch, Susan Collins, Mike Enzi, Johnny Isakson, Roger Wicker, John Boozman, Pat Toomey, Bill Cassidy, James Lankford, Steve Daines, John Kennedy and Cindy Hyde-Smith.

“In recent months, media outlets reported that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering regulatory action to expand the sale of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol by volume (E15) year-round by waiving certain Clean Air Act (CAA) requirements related to Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP),” the senators write. “However, a one-sided approach to addressing concerns related to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that favors only one industry stakeholder is misguided. We are concerned that doing so would do nothing to address the policies impacting refinery jobs, could hurt millions of consumers whose vehicles and equipment are not compatible with higher ethanol blended gasoline, and risk worsening air quality.”

View the full letter here and below:

 

October 4, 2018 

The President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

In recent months, media outlets reported that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering regulatory action to expand the sale of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol by volume (E15) year-round by waiving certain Clean Air Act (CAA) requirements related to Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP). However, a one-sided approach to addressing concerns related to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that favors only one industry stakeholder is misguided. We are concerned that doing so would do nothing to address the policies impacting refinery jobs, could hurt millions of consumers whose vehicles and equipment are not compatible with higher ethanol blended gasoline, and risk worsening air quality. We write to express our strong opposition to this approach.

As you know, in an effort to address evaporative emissions from motor vehicles and off-road equipment, as part of the 1990 CAA amendments, Congress established a maximum RVP for gasoline of 9.0 psi for the high ozone season, often referred to as the summertime driving season.[1] Recognizing that gasoline’s volatility (or tendency to evaporate) increases with the blending of ethanol, the 1990 CAA amendments also provided an RVP limitation for fuel blends containing gasoline and 10 percent ethanol of 1.0 psi higher.[2] This “one pound waiver” applies only to fuel containing gasoline and 10 percent ethanol.

In 2010 and 2011, the EPA issued two partial CAA waivers permitting the use of E15 for model year 2001 and newer light duty motor vehicles.[3] The research to support the Agency’s decisions was based on the impact of E15 on emissions control systems, and those results were inappropriately assumed to determine the impact on engine and fuel system durability. Subsequent research revealed that millions of vehicles approved to use E15 by the EPA are susceptible to engine and fuel system damage from E15 fuel.[4] Automobile manufacturers have cautioned consumers not to use the fuel in vehicles not designed to use it. Additionally, consumers, using lawn equipment, motorcycles, boats, and other small engines not approved by EPA to use E15, do not have the benefit of a robust misfueling prevention system.

Significantly, the EPA premised the original E15 waiver on retaining the existing CAA RVP limits, as the Agency had previously determined it lacked the legal authority to grant an RVP waiver to gasoline ethanol blends beyond 10 percent ethanol, noting the “significant potential” for higher blends to increased emissions and risk compliance with air quality standards:

Additionally, as explained in the misfueling mitigation measures proposed rule, EPA interprets the 1.0 psi waiver in CAA section 211(h) as being limited to gasoline-ethanol blends that contain 10 vol% ethanol. Therefore, given the significant potential for increased evaporative emissions at higher gasoline volatility levels, and the lack of data to resolve how this would impact compliance with the emissions standards, today’s waiver is limited to E15 with a summertime RVP no higher than 9.0 psi.[5]

The Agency reinforced this determination eight months later when it declared “the text of section 211(h)(4) and this legislative history supports EPA’s interpretation, adopted in the 1991 rulemaking, that the 1 psi waiver only applies to gasoline blends containing 9–10 vol% ethanol.”[6]

In conclusion, a decision to grant such a waiver goes against the Agency’s long standing interpretation as well as a plain reading of the CAA. We urge you to engage in a collaborative and transparent process with robust engagement on any RFS reform efforts. 

We look forward to working with you to address these issues to the benefit of all stakeholders and consumers.

 

Sincerely,



[1] 42 U.S.C. Section 7545(h)(1).

[2] 42 U.S.C. Section 7545(h)(4).

[3] 75 Fed. Reg. 68094 (November 4, 2010); 75 Fed. Reg. 4662 (January 26, 2011).

[4] https://crcao.org/reports/recentstudies2013/CRC%20664%20%5bAVFL-15a%5d/AVFL%2015a%20%5bCRC%20664%5d%20Final%20Report%20only.pdf

[5] 75 Fed. Reg. 68094, 68096 (November 4, 2010).

[6] Fed. Reg. 44406, 44434 (July 25, 2011).