U.S. Senators Introduce Bill to Expand Biofuels Market

U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.; and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have introduced the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act, which would extend the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver to ethanol blends above 10%.

As reported, this move would increase market access opportunities for higher blends of ethanol, allowing retailers across the country to sell E15 and other higher-ethanol/gasoline fuel blends year-round. According to the three senators, this would increase regulatory certainty and eliminate confusion at the pump.

“As one of America’s largest producers of ethanol, Nebraska can provide renewable solutions for our nation’s energy needs,” Fischer says. “The bipartisan legislation we are introducing today would expand fuel options for consumers and remove regulatory burdens that limit the use of E15. It would also ensure a fair playing field for higher-ethanol blends, expanding fuel choices and strengthening our energy diversity.”

Donnelly says, “Biofuels give consumers more options and reduce fuel prices at the gas pump. This legislation would expand the market for ethanol producers, opening more market opportunities for fuels grown on Hoosier farms. I am proud to join my colleague Senator Fischer, along with Senator Grassley, in a bipartisan effort to eliminate the senseless restriction on ethanol producers and consumers.”

Grassley adds, “Consumers appreciate having choices, whether it’s at the grocery store or the fuel pump. Those of us who live in biofuels-producing states understand the appeal of cleaner, domestic, renewable fuels. The EPA should be consistent in the way it treats different fuel blends as a matter of fairness and to give consumers more options for fueling their vehicles. The EPA has never acted on its authority to grant a Reid vapor pressure waiver for E15. This bill proposes a legislative fix to fill the void.”

Each year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates RVP for gasoline and gasoline-ethanol blended from June 1 until Sept. 15. During these months, when many travelers are on the road, the EPA restricts the retail sale of fuels with ethanol above 10%. Only higher blends that go through extra and more costly refining may be sold to consumers during this time.

Furthermore, retailers are forced to change fuels or labeling during the summer fueling season. This is why retailers often choose not to sell higher ethanol blends, such as E15, seeing as they can only sell these products mid-September until May. According to the senators, the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act would allow retailers to sell E15 all year long without going through the costly approval process.

Click here to read the bill.

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