Motorists in Missouri can find gasoline blended with 15% ethanol at some gas stations across the state, but the sale of E15 is not allowed during the summer season (June 1-September 15). Giving consumers year-round access to E15 is a major focus of the ethanol industry. Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, says getting what’s called the RVP (Reid Vapor Pressure) waiver extended to E15 is the key.
“You give us the RVP waiver and immediately you’re going to see 700 million gallons in terms of just conventional biofuel demand,” Skor says. “So we’ve got some numbers to show this would have real economic impact.”
The RVP law, created in 1990, allowed E10 to be sold year-round, but the Environmental Protection Agency has not extended the waiver to E15. Skor says more than 1,000 fuel stations around the country are offering E15, nearly triple from this time last year. But she says the RVP regulation is preventing further growth.
“I’ve talked to a lot of retailers that are sitting on the sidelines right now waiting for that,” she says. “It’s a real problem for retailers. It’s a legal fuel and one day a consumer can use it for their 2001 and newer car and the next there’s a label that says they can’t.”
In a letter to corn-state lawmakers in October, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said he would investigate whether the agency has the authority to issue the RVP waiver. If not, Pruitt indicated he would work with Congress to resolve the issue.
According to the ethanol industry, E15 is typically priced five to 10 cents less than E10 fuel. E15 is federally approved for use in all 2001 and newer vehicles.
Missouri has six ethanol plants, producing around 300 million gallons of the product annually.
By Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News and Pat Curtis, Radio Iowa