Budzinski, Colleagues Lead Bipartisan Letter to Support Year-Round Sale of E15 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, U.S. Representatives Nikki Budzinski (IL-13), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-01), Adrian Smith (NE-03) and Mark Pocan (WI-02) sent a letter to House Leadership and leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee requesting a legislative solution to allow the voluntary sale of E15 year-round nationwide.

“We write to express our support for swift passage of a legislative solution which would allow motor vehicle fuel containing 15 percent ethanol (E15) to be voluntarily sold year-round throughout the country,” wrote the Members. “In light of the recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) final rule allowing the year-round sale of E15 in eight Midwestern states beginning in 2025, governors, agriculture producers, ethanol refiners, oil refiners, retailers, and the automotive industry have all recognized the need for permanent law which provides needed certainty for producers and consumers in every state.”

As a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, Congresswoman Budzinski has established herself as a bipartisan leader in supporting biofuels production and family farmers across Central and Southern Illinois, including pushing the Biden Administration to allow the voluntary sale of E15 year-round. 

  • In February 2023, Budzinski signed a letter to EPA Administrator Regan and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Young pushing for the removal of the 1-psi volatility waiver for gasoline-ethanol blends in Midwest states, including Illinois. 
  • As a follow up to that letter, Budzinski signed a December 2023 letter to OMB Director Young again urging the Administration to permanently remove the 1-psi volatility waiver to allow Midwest states to sell E15 year-round, without restriction. 
  • In February 2024, Budzinski applauded EPA’s decision to allow the year-round sale of E15 in Midwest states in 2025 and beyond, while also calling for additional action to ensure that E15 can be sold in the summer of 2024. 

In addition, Budzinski’s Next Generation Fuels ActSustainable Aviation Fuels Accuracy Act and Fuels Parity Act would take significant steps to support the future of homegrown biofuels. Additional information on Budzinski’s biofuels legislation can be found below: 

  • The Next Generation Fuels Act would phase in higher gasoline octane levels through the greater use of ethanol beginning with a 95 Research Octane Number (RON) standard for automobile model year 2028 and increasing to 98 RON by model year 2033. For a new vehicle to receive certification from an automaker, the bill would require the automobile to operate with an E25 blend for model year 2028 and an E30 blend for model year 2033 onwards. The bill would also require fuel retailers to carry these higher blend fuels.
  • The Sustainable Aviation Fuels Accuracy Act would require the federal government to use the most up-to-date lifecycle emissions models—including the U.S. Department of Energy commissioned, Argonne National Lab’s Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Technologies Model or GREET model—that accurately considers crops, land uses and carbon reduction practices in the U.S and does not arbitrarily prevent our American farmers and crops from contributing to the green economy.
  • The Fuels Parity Act would allow corn to qualify as an advanced biofuel – incentivizing lower emissions from ethanol production and allowing corn to access another bucket of the RFS. If ethanol can meet the scientific thresholds, then it should be allowed to qualify as an advanced biofuel and generate an advanced biofuel renewable identification number.

The full text of the letter can be found here and below:

Dear Speaker Johnson, Leader Jeffries, Chair McMorris Rodgers, and Ranking Member Pallone:

We write to express our support for swift passage of a legislative solution which would allow motor vehicle fuel containing 15 percent ethanol (E15) to be voluntarily sold year-round throughout the country. In light of recent court decisions and regulatory actions, governors, agriculture producers and ethanol refiners, oil drillers and refiners, retailers, and the automotive industry have all recognized the need for permanent law which provides needed certainty for producers and consumers in every state. 

Congress must move forward with legislation to address a much-needed update to the Clean Air Act (CAA) that has prevented the use and sales of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol (E15) in the summer. Currently, the CAA restricts the sale of E15 during the summer driving season (June 1 to September 15) in most of the country. Although E15 has a lower Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) volatility than fuel containing 10 percent ethanol (E10), E15 is unable to be sold under the year-round sale waiver provided to E10 because the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not have the statutory authority to allow the sale of E15 under the legislative waiver provided to E10.

In the absence of legislative action allowing for year-round E15 sales, in April of 2022, eight Midwest governors exercised their authority under the CAA to request the removal of the 1 psi RVP waiver for E10 in their states. When the EPA waiver allowing the summer sale of E15 in these eight states ends in April, fuel refiners and retailers will be required to provide a different grade of gasoline unique to these states, which is different than the fuel produced for the rest of the United States. This change could lead to increased gasoline prices around the country.

Passage of legislation supported by all stakeholders to allow the voluntary year-round sale of E15 nationwide would provide parity in treatment of E10 and E15 across the country, increase consumer choice for those who choose to purchase E15, and avoid the inflationary impacts of state-specific or regional fuel specifications. This important legislation would provide certainty to the entire industry—including farmers, renewable fuel producers, fuel marketers, and retailers. As EPA is set to finalize regulations implementing the state petitions by March 28, 2024, it is critical that Congress address this situation before this takes effect. 

We urge you to support bipartisan legislative efforts to ensure that E15 can be voluntarily sold year-round and avoid potential fuel supply issues that will occur if E15 is only allowed in certain states. Addressing these two issues will provide much-needed certainty to entities looking to make investments in lower carbon fuels and to the broader fuel value chain. Most importantly, this legislative fix is needed to ensure consumers have access to lower cost, consistently available, fuel during the summer months.

Thank you for your continued leadership on these critical issues impacting our nation’s fuel supply. We look forward to working with you on this issue and to find a speedy resolution to avoid higher energy prices and supply disruptions.

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