E15 Rising: Follow These 4 Developments to Appraise the Fuel’s Future

Photograph courtesy of Source North America

There are several indicators that sales of E15 could experience a dramatic upswing, perhaps even replace E10. Here are four E15 developments that convenience-store retailers should keep an eye on to gauge its expansion. 

1. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed revisions to UST equipment compatibility regulations and dispenser labeling requirements that would create more opportunity for E15. 

The proposed changes would repeal the dispenser labels that warn motorists of E15’s potential damage to incompatible vehicles, which may be deterring customers from purchasing E15. The amended rulemaking would also loosen UST compatibility requirements.

E15 UST Compatibility 

Preparing a fueling system for long-term compatibility with higher ethanol blends, such as E15, takes planning and expertise. Source North America guides c-store retailers through compatibility considerations not only as they relate to compliance obligations, but also with regard to UST equipment longevity. Contact Source North America today for assistance preparing fuel systems for future fuels. 

2. Bipartisan legislation has been reintroduced to establish a renewable fuel infrastructure grant program. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture implemented isolated infrastructure grant programs in 2015 and 2020. The Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Investment and Market Expansion Act reintroduced by two U.S. senators would authorize $500 million for fuel marketers over five years. The bill would also finalize the dispenser labeling and UST changes proposed by the EPA if the rulemaking is adopted.

3. The EPA has reversed course to support the ethanol industry in a lawsuit over biofuel waivers granted to oil refineries. 

In February 2021, the EPA said it will now support a 2020 decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that concluded the EPA improperly granted exemptions to refineries that didn’t qualify for them. The lawsuit, which was filed by the Renewable Fuels Association and farm groups, will head to the U.S. Supreme Court this spring.  

4. Individual states are also throwing their support behind ethanol

Iowa is considering a proposal to set its own renewable fuel standard that would require c-stores to offer fuel with higher levels of ethanol and biodiesel. Minnesota has introduced legislation that would raise the state’s ethanol standard from 10% to 15%. Florida approved a bill to fund petroleum system repairs or preventive measures up to $500,000 per year to ensure compatibility with ethanol or biodiesel. 

Although these developments seem to be contributing to a positive trajectory for E15, the bottom-line benefits of the fuel to c-stores and customers will not be ubiquitous. Lingering challenges with nationwide distribution and shipping logistics will be a key factor. Source North America regularly includes information about industry trends and challenges such as these in its newsletter, SourceLine. Sign up here to receive the newsletter.

This post is sponsored by Source North America

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