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Midwest governors push for E15 emergency waiver

(The Center Square) – Four Midwestern states’ governors on Tuesday urged the Environmental Protection Agency to issue an emergency waiver for E15 sales during the summer.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed the letter.

They said they’re concerned that because the EPA missed its deadline to promulgate their 2022 petition to allow year-round sales of E15 in their states under the Clean Air Act, that the agency will delay implementation until April 28, 2024.

“Postponing implementation of our petition could result in higher prices at the pump during the summer 2023 driving season, as consumers would lose access to lower-cost, cleaner-burning E15,” the letter said.

The EPA missed the statutory deadline by more than 200 days, the governors said.

“In light of this, we ask that EPA use its authority under Clean Air Act section 211(c)(4) to apply the same volatility limitations to both E10 and E15 during the 2023 summer ozone control season to address extreme and unusual fuel supply circumstances across our nation caused by the war in Ukraine,” the letter said.

They said that when the EPA did this during the summer 2022 ozone control season, continued availability of E15 that summer extended fuel supplies, helped avert potential shortages and saved Americans at least $57 million in fuel costs because they saved an average of 23 cents per gallon of gas.

The governors said market conditions that justified emergency action in 2022 are still present this year, as U.S. inventories of crude oil and petroleum products recently hit a 19-year low; nationwide gasoline stocks are 3% lower than a year ago; and gasoline futures prices are up roughly 15% in the last two weeks.

“With a larger-than-usual amount of refining capacity offline for maintenance, supplies and prices could experience greater pressure as summer approaches,” they said.

They said consumers, fuel retailers, ethanol producers and farmers need certainty.

Taxpayers for Common Sense said in a 2022 report that government-set mandates and subsidies for the corn ethanol industry have distorted markets.

“Expanding the use of E15 in the short-term would likely have limited effects. Expanding E15 use long-term through legislative action – or worse yet, subsidizing it – would only worsen the negative impacts of ethanol use, without benefiting the climate,” the report said. “Instead of continuing to expand corn ethanol’s market share, policymakers should invest in real climate solutions such as agricultural conservation practices that sequester carbon long-term.”

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