The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee tis considering legislation that would extend the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) volatility waiver to gasoline blended with 15% ethanol (E15). The bill would allow retailers across the country to offer more biofuel choices to customers year-round.
The Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act has 18 bipartisan sponsors and was introduced in March by Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Thune (R-SD), and Joni Ernst (R-IA). Senate champions have sought to bring the bill to a vote in next few weeks.
Earlier this year, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt also expressed his hope for a fix but acknowledged the need for greater certainly in the laws governing RVP.
“This is a simple and long-overdue fix that will improve air quality, lower prices at the pump, and level the playing field for homegrown biofuels,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “We’ve been working with champions in the House and Senate for three years to get this over the finish line so that local fuel retailers have the freedom to offer cleaner-burning, less expensive biofuel blends all year long. Consumer access to E15 will provide a vital market for continued investment in the next generation of cellulosic biofuels produced from agricultural waste and other natural materials.”
The proposal has broad, bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, in part because the current restrictions force many convenience stores to switch to lower ethanol blend options during the summer months, from June 1 to Sept. 15, and discourage many retailers from offering higher biofuel blends altogether.
According to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), E15 can help to “reduce harmful volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, displace cancer causing emissions, and reduce smog forming potential, as well as cutting greenhouse gases … E15 is also typically two to 10 cents cheaper per gallon than E10.”
“There is no reason for the current RVP burden that blocks retailers, like us, from offering our customers less expensive, earth-friendlier fuel choices year-round,” said Steve Walk, COO of Protec Fuel. “The Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act is a common-sense policy that lifts this decades-old rule to allow fuel retailers to offer E15 during the summer driving season and provide our customers a consistent option at the pump that contains higher octane for a lower price.”