EPA Issues Emergency Waiver for E15 Sales

Agency takes steps to increase fuel supply
convenience store ethanol fuel
Photograph: Shutterstock

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has officially issued an emergency fuel waiver to allow E15 gasoline—motor fuel that uses a 15% ethanol blend—to be sold during the summer driving season. This action will increase fuel supply and provide consumers more choices at the pump.

“President Biden and this administration are committed to protecting American consumers from the impacts of Russia’s unprovoked attack against Ukraine,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “Putin’s war has had a profound impact on global and domestic energy markets. In consultation with Secretary [Jennifer] Granholm, I have concluded that it is necessary to take action to allow E15 sales during the summer driving season in order to minimize and prevent disruption of summertime fuel supply to consumers.”

This action is being taken to counteract Russia’s war against Ukraine and the effect on global and domestic energy markets, the agency said. The EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have been actively monitoring market supply disruptions caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The Clean Air Act allows the EPA Administrator, in consultation with DOE, to temporarily waive certain fuel requirements to address shortages. As a result of the war in Ukraine, Administrator Regan determined that extreme and unusual fuel supply circumstances exist and has granted a temporary waiver to help ensure that an adequate supply of gasoline is available. As required by law, the EPA and DOE evaluated the situation and determined that granting the waiver was in the public interest.

Currently, in roughly two-thirds of the country, E15 cannot be sold from terminals starting on May 1 and at retail stations starting on June 1. EPA is extending the 1-psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver that currently applies to E10 gasoline to E15, which will enable E15 sales throughout the summer driving season in these areas, if necessary. This action only extends the 1-psi waiver to E15 in parts of the country where it already exists for E10. E15 can already be sold year-round in parts of the country that have a Reformulated Gasoline (RFG) program.

Because the RVP of E10 and E15 gasoline used by consumers will be the same (both will be 1 psi higher than otherwise required by EPA or state regulations) the EPA does not expect any effect on air quality from this limited action. The EPA’s research has shown no significant effect on evaporative emissions when the 1-psi waiver is extended to E15. With no significant effects on emissions from cars and trucks, the EPA expects consumers can continue to use E15 without concern that its use in the summer will affect air quality.

EPA’s emergency fuel waiver went into effect on May 1 when terminal operators would otherwise no longer be able to sell E15 in the affected regions of the country and will last for the statutory maximum of 20 days. The EPA will continue to monitor the supply with industry and federal partners, and the agency said it expects to issue new waivers effectively extending the emergency fuel waiver until such time as the extreme and unusual fuel supply circumstances due to the war in Ukraine are no longer present.

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