Lower-Cost, Lower-Emissions Bioethanol

New and used internal combustion engine vehicles will continue to be part of the automotive landscape for the next several decades. Lowering emissions from those vehicles will require leveraging higher blends of renewable fuel with bioethanol. By updating outdated regulations and removing administrative hurdles, policymakers can increase consumer access to higher renewable fuel blends like E15, which save consumers money and reduce carbon emissions.

E15 is a fuel blend made with 15% bioethanol that can be used in 96% of light-duty vehicles on the road today. It both lowers fuel costs for consumers while reducing carbon emissions.

The Asks

  • Congress should approve the Nationwide Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act or the
    Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act—two bills that would provide a permanent, year-round
    fix allowing for the sale of E15 across the country.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should
    • finalize its approval of the opt-out request from several midwestern governors that
      would allow E15 to be sold in their states year-round.
    • finalize its proposal to simplify the onerous E15 labeling requirements at the fuel
    • clarify rules that would allow retailers to use existing fuel storage and dispensing
      equipment to sell E15 (rather than just E10).

What Is E15?

E15, most commonly sold as Unleaded 88 (UNL88) by fuel retailers, is a fuel blend made of gasoline and 15% bio-based ethanol. Higher in octane than standard fuel grades, it burns cleaner and cooler than standard gasoline and can be used in 96% of the vehicles on the road today (all cars 2001 or newer). It also costs less on average than other fuel options.

Why Isn’t E15 Sold Year-Round Today?

E15 sales are restricted in the summertime in most of the country because of outdated fuel regulations on evaporative emissions that were crafted more than 20 years before EPA approved the use of E15. These regulations do not reflect the current fuel marketplace — or the emissions improvements that E15 provides. Get the full story here.

How Is Growth Energy Working to Increase Access to Higher Blends Like E15 at the State Level?

  • Growth Energy supports a number of state-level efforts to increase and incentivize the use of E15. Most recently, Growth Energy supported the successful enactment of E15 standards in Nebraska and Iowa (meaning fuel retailers will be required to sell E15 at their locations in these states starting in 2024 and 2026, respectively). We’ve also worked with state legislators to enact tax incentives for retailers that encourage the sale of more E15. E15 tax incentives have currently been enacted in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska.
  • Growth Energy continues to advocate for regulatory approval for E15 in California.
  • Growth Energy has also endorsed the efforts of midwestern governors and attorneys general to opt out of the federal Reid vapor pressure (RVP) rules that limit the year-round sale of E15. As of fall 2023, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin have all petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to opt out and be permitted to apply the same regulations to E15 that they currently apply to standard gasoline (E10).

What Changes Need to Be Made to American Infrastructure to Expand Access to Biofuels?

First, EPA should put our existing infrastructure to better use by allowing fuel retailers to use their current storage and dispensing equipment for E15, rather than just for E10. The agency must also simplify its labeling requirements, so that these rules don’t drive retailers away from selling E15 just because of the administrative burden.

Second, in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Congress provided $500 million to support the development of biofuels infrastructure, including infrastructure improvements for blending, storing, supplying, or distributing. This funding is vital to expanding the availability of lower-cost, lower-carbon E15 across the country to help retailers make infrastructure changes to offer E15.

What Impact Would a Nationwide Shift to E15 Have?

  • If the United States transitioned from E10 to E15 nationwide, greenhouse gas emissions would fall by 17.62 million tons per year, the equivalent of removing approximately 3.85 million vehicles from the road.
  • Nationwide adoption of E15 would save consumers $20.6 billion in annual fuel costs, put an additional $36.6 billion in income into the pockets of American families, and generate $66.3 billion for the U.S. GDP.

What Impact Would Growth Energy’s Policy Priorities Have on Consumers, the Economy, or the Environment?

  • Year-round E15 would save drivers money. In the summer of 2023, consumers saved $0.16 per gallon on average using E15, with some areas seeing savings up to $0.60 per gallon.
  • Increased use of E15 would reduce smog-forming pollutants and lower emissions of particulate matter up to 50 percent compared to gasoline.

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