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Year-Round E15 Sales to be Approved for Midwest States in 2025

Reuters’ Jarrett Renshaw and Stephanie Kelly reported Tuesday that “the White House will approve a request from a group of Midwest governors to allow year-round sales of gasoline with higher blends of ethanol (in their states), but will push the start date into next year, two sources familiar with discussions said.”

“The decision will likely be bittersweet for the biofuel industry, which wants to expand sales of corn-based ethanol but might be frustrated by the 2025 start date,” Renshaw and Kelly wrote. “The one-year delay could put off any potential localized price spikes and supply issues that the oil industry says could arise from the decision until after the U.S. election, the sources said.”

Push for Year-Round Sales

The push for year round sales began in April 2022, when the governors of Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency saying that “a permanent solution allowing the year-round sale of E15 is also needed for longterm certainty.”

“We respectfully request that EPA promulgate a regulation applying … to all fuel blends containing gasoline and 10 percent ethanol that are sold, offered for sale, dispensed, supplied, offered for supply, transported, or introduced into commerce in Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin beginning with the 2023 summer ozone control season,” the letter said.

The EPA did not respond to the governors request, according to reporting from AgWeb’s Jenna Hoffman in August 2023, though EPA said it would act “on the petitions by the end of 2023.”

Because of the delayed response, “attorney generals in Iowa and Nebraska filed suit against EPA this week to better hold the agency and its jurisdictional timeline accountable,” Hoffman reported. “’The Biden Administration has dragged its feet long enough,’ adds Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird. ‘Hardworking Iowans deserve a cheaper, cleaner option at the gas pump. But despite the governors’ request, the EPA has refused to allow Iowans to buy the fuel they want. Well, Iowans are done waiting. We’re taking President Biden and the EPA to court to make E15 available year-round.'”

Months after the lawsuit was filed, “the EPA had sent a final rule on the proposal to the White House in December with an effective date of April 28, 2024,” Renshaw and Kelly reported. “The new timeline would push the effective date to 2025, the sources said.”

The Plan

“Under the plan, the administration would grant a 2022 request from the governors of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin to allow year-round sales of E15 (in their states), or gasoline with 15% ethanol, starting next year, the sources said,” according to Renshaw and Kelly. “In the meantime, the EPA could issue a temporary waiver enabling such sales as needed.”

“For years the ethanol industry has pushed to lift the restrictions on E15 sales nationwide, arguing the environmental impacts have been overstated,” according to Renshaw and Kelly. “The request from the Midwestern states has been controversial, however, as oil refiners including HF Sinclair Corp and Phillips 66 have warned that a patchwork approach to approving E15 sales would complicate fuel supply logistics and raise the risk of spot shortages. Ethanol groups say they would prefer a nationwide legislative fix to allow for expanded E15 sales, versus the regional approach.”
Reuters’ Stephanie Kelly reported after the news of the expansion in Midwest states broke, “U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Tuesday he was confident that expanded sales of gasoline with higher blends of ethanol would be available across the country in 2025.”

Ryan Hanrahan is the farm policy news editor and social media director for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked in local news, primarily as an agriculture journalist in the American West. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri (B.S. Science & Agricultural Journalism).

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