Higher-ethanol fuel fight resumes

By Marc Heller | 02/21/2024 01:32 PM EST

Biofuel groups pin hopes on EPA allowing year-round sales of E15 in Midwest states, plus an emergency waiver to allow summer sales nationally.

An E15 fuel sign sits on display.

An E15 fuel sign sits on display during the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association's meeting on Jan. 28, 2014, in Altoona, Iowa. Charlie Neibergall/AP

The annual debate over letting gas stations sell higher-ethanol fuel in summer is heating up again as industry groups await key decisions by the Biden administration.

Officials are weighing two possibilities to allow sales of 15 percent ethanol fuel year-round: a request by eight Midwestern states for a permanent waiver of summer restrictions, and an emergency measure to temporarily permit such sales throughout the country. Fuel that’s 10 percent ethanol, called E10, is standard nationally.

Biofuel groups partially cheered a Reuters news report, based on anonymous sources, that the administration is prepared to grant the states’ request but not make it effective until summer 2025. And a speech by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at an ethanol industry conference Tuesday hinted that the emergency measure could be put in place this summer as it has been for the past few years.


“If true, we appreciate the EPA’s decision to finalize year-round E15 in the eight states that petitioned them for this ability to offer year-round sales,” said Emily Skor, CEO of the ethanol group Growth Energy. “However, delaying the rule until 2025 will create a needless challenge for the millions of drivers that depend on E15 for summer savings and will require a solution to maintain continuity for this summer.”