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EPA issues emergency waiver for E15 summer sales

This move aims to increase fuel availability, reduce dependence on foreign oil and offer cheaper fuel options.

Gas Pump E15 Blend Pixabay

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on April 19, 2024, an emergency fuel waiver that permits the sale of E15 gasoline — fuel containing 15% ethanol — during the upcoming summer driving season. This decision aims to alleviate rising fuel costs and address shortages exacerbated by international conflicts.

The waiver is a direct response to the ongoing war in Ukraine and tensions in the Middle East, which have significantly impacted the availability and price of fuel globally. By allowing E15 sales, the EPA intends to diversify available fuel options, lessen dependency on imported oil, and support domestic agriculture and manufacturing sectors. Notably, E15 typically costs approximately $0.25 less per gallon than E10, offering a more affordable choice for consumers.

EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan emphasized the move as part of President Biden's broader strategy to enhance national energy security and support American consumers facing high fuel prices due to geopolitical instability. "This action will help ensure an adequate fuel supply while supporting American farmers and strengthening our nation's energy security," Regan stated.

The Clean Air Act authorizes the EPA Administrator, in coordination with the Department of Energy, to temporarily waive specific fuel regulations to tackle shortages. The current circumstances have been deemed sufficiently extreme and unusual to justify this temporary waiver, which aims to ensure continued gasoline availability.

Traditionally, E15 sales were restricted during summer months in two-thirds of the country due to air quality concerns related to higher temperatures. However, extending the existing 1-psi Reid Vapor Pressure waiver from E10 to E15 will now allow its sale throughout the summer in these regions. The EPA has found that this adjustment will not adversely affect air quality, as E15 does not significantly impact evaporative emissions compared to E10.

The emergency waiver will be effective from May 1 to May 20, 2024, the maximum duration allowed under statute, with the possibility of further extensions should the supply situation not improve.

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