Published by Washington Examiner on May 19, 2023
Thank you to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for working with the Department of Energy, Department of Agriculture and supportive members of Congress to prevent a disruption in the sale of E15 fuel through the coming months.
Last year, the EPA took the same action, saving drivers throughout the country anywhere from 23 cents to nearly one dollar per gallon. The EPA’s work to expand access to E15 not only lowers prices at the pump, it also helps increase fuel supply, reduce harmful emissions and strengthen our country’s clean energy future.
Neil Caskey, NCGA CEO, discusses in the Washington Examiner how to make this a permanent solution.
With the summer driving season around the corner, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has once again used its existing authority to prevent consumers from losing access to a lower-cost and lower-emission fuel choice. At a time when gas prices and demand rise, maintaining access to E15, fuel blended with 15% ethanol and often labeled as unleaded 88, is a common-sense move that increases the fuel supply, saves consumers money, and cuts transportation emissions.
The EPA made the right decision. Crude oil and gasoline inventories are at near-historic lows and uncertainty surrounds the domestic fuel supply, and ensuring the continued availability of E15 helps consumers and retailers. Now it's time for policymakers to consider making this availability permanent. Governing from crisis to crisis is too often Washington’s strategy. And the fact is that ethanol is not just a short-term summer fix — it is part of the long-term solution to achieving our nation’s economic, energy, and environmental goals.
Yet full market access for this fuel choice has continued to hit roadblocks, despite bipartisan efforts from the EPA, Congress, and governors to address obsolete regulations — and they’re not the only ones who recognize the need for change. It’s not often that groups representing convenience stores, energy producers, manufacturers, and agriculture agree on fuel issues. But they’re all calling on Congress to move forward with the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act, bipartisan legislation that would remove the outdated and unnecessary red tape impeding access to the lower-cost and lower-emission choice of E15.
This legislation is especially important today. The U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) currently is at its lowest level in 30 years, and in many areas of the country, fuel supply is even lower than it was one year ago when the EPA took similar action to maintain the availability of E15. What’s more, OPEC’s recent decision to cut oil production by more than 1 million barrels per day puts pressure on the American fuel supply.
Congress should also move forward with the Next Generation Fuels Act to help the market transition to cleaner liquid fuels and vehicles to ensure that consumers have access to more affordable vehicle and fuel choices in the long run. This bill would establish a clean, high-octane fuel standard to help automakers deploy advanced engines to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.
Both pieces of legislation would be a win-win for the consumer and the environment. Today, more than 98 % of U.S. gasoline contains ethanol, thanks to cost-saving 10% ethanol blends sold throughout the country. Higher blends such as E15 take greater advantage of the benefits of this homegrown fuel, and E15 is approved for all 2001 and newer vehicles — nearly all vehicles on the road today.
Moreover, ethanol use results in up to 52% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline and provides drivers with increased savings at the pump. In fact, a comparison of pump prices from more than 550 retail stations during the past year shows drivers saved at least 25 cents per gallon with E15. In addition to being lower in carbon emissions, E15 has lower volatility than regular fuel, and using E15 results in lower evaporative and exhaust emissions, which is important during the summer driving season.
We commend the EPA for acting to support consumers this summer, but the work cannot stop here. If passed, the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act would give all drivers access to year-round savings and the opportunity to fill up with a cleaner-burning fuel — and that’s just the first part of the solution.
With smart policies in place, we can ensure the cleaner choice of E15 has a permanent spot in the market and advance the long-term energy and climate solutions the country needs.