The ethanol industry has long been in conflict with the petroleum industry over blending the renewable fuel with gasoline, but that may be changing. This week a coalition of farm, and energy, groups sent a letter to congress in support of federal legislation to “apply the same fuel volatility limit to all conventional gasoline blends during the summer ozone control season.” In essence, they’re pushing for year-round E15 – often referred at retail locations as unleaded 88.
The signees to this letter include not only the familiar farm groups including the American Farm Bureau Federation but also the American Petroleum Institute. API has not been a fan of ethanol blended in gasoline, but change happens. A recent report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that the amount of ethanol blended with gasoline keeps creeping higher.
During his weekly media call, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, notes that a reason “you’ll find the American Petroleum Institute involved is because a couple of companies…are very much involved in biofuels.” The two companies moving into the biofuel arena include Marathon Petroleum and Phillips 66.
When quizzed about API’s influence in the matter and whether its voice was for all petroleum companies, Grassley adds: “I’ll tell you the institute is for the whole industry and if there was much disagreement in the industry you would not have the institute involved.”
In the letter, the signees point out that legislation passed three decades ago establishing the Reid vapor pressure volatility allowance was set at a level for gasoline blends containing 10% ethanol. “Gasoline containing 15% is not provided the same RVP allowance as E10, even though the fuel is slightly less volatile than E10,” the groups note.
They note that due to that current policy, it is difficult for many fuel marketers and retailers that may want to offer E15 to customers in the summer months, to source the fuel. Governors in several states recently petitioned EPA to eliminate the one-psi RVP allowance for E10 in their states.
“Our groups have come together – for the first time ever – to support legislation that would resolve this issue once and for all,” the letter notes. They support legislation that extends the one-psi RVP tolerance to all gasoline blends containing 10% ethanol, or more, while nullifying the recent state petitions that eliminate the one-psi allowance for E10.
The groups note that “by ensuring uniformity across the nation’s fuel supply chain, federal legislation will provide more flexibility and result in more consistent outcomes than a state-by-state regulatory landscape.”
They add that absent the legislation, the gasoline marketplace would face uncertainty and political disputes over E15 would continue to resurface every summer.
The signers included:
American Farm Bureau Federation
American Petroleum Institute
Association of Equipment Manufacturers
National Association of Convenience Stores
National Corn Growers Association
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
National Farmers Union
National Sorghum Producers
NATSO – Representing America’s Truckstops and Travel Plazas
Renewable Fuels Association
SIGMA – America’s Leading Fuel Marketers