WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today joined 16 of their Senate colleagues in writing to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt highlighting the benefits of year-round E15 sales. The letter comes weeks after the president indicated he supported such a waiver. Thune and Rounds want Pruitt to provide an expected timeline for an administrative Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver, and they request that the agency allow for the sale of E15 during the upcoming summer driving season.
“First, we ask you to provide an expected timeline of the rulemaking process to clarify how the agency will make this change to allow higher ethanol blends access to the market place,” the senators wrote. “Additionally, we ask that you provide immediate clarity to allow higher ethanol blends to be sold in the interim while the outdated regulation is being changed. Doing this will fulfill the president’s commitment to allow consumer’s access to these fuels year-round, expand consumer choice, and eliminate confusion at the pump.”
In addition to Thune and Rounds, the letter was also signed by U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).
Full text of the letter is below:
April 30, 2018
The Honorable Scott Pruitt
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20460
Dear Administrator Pruitt:
We write today regarding President Trump’s recent commitment to allow for 15 percent ethanol blends (E15) to be sold year around. We also seek information and a transparent timeline from you on the regulatory pathway forward to address the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) issue in the wake of the president’s announcement.
Collectively, we are long-time supporters of the effort to address the RVP issue and make E15 available year around across the United States. Allowing an open marketplace with more fuel options for consumers encourages competition and drives down consumer fuel costs. Moreover, E15 lowers evaporative and tailpipe emissions when compared to 10 percent ethanol fuel, improving the environment. Resolving this issue also provides a pathway to increase farm income at a time when producers are struggling with a depressed farm economy, low commodity prices, and tight margins.
Congress never intended the RVP waiver to effectively be a market cap on the amount of ethanol blended in gasoline. Rather, this provision was intended to provide a pathway for ethanol to grow and thrive in the fuel marketplace when it was passed in 1990. The current interpretation is outdated and has created an untenable regulatory barrier to E15 as a readily available option for motorists. As the fuel marketplace has changed over the past 28 years since the RVP waiver for 10 percent ethanol blends was first approved, this provision needs to change as well.
First, we ask you to provide an expected timeline of the rulemaking process to clarify how the agency will make this change to allow higher ethanol blends access to the market place. Additionally, we ask that you provide immediate clarity to allow higher ethanol blends to be sold in the interim while the outdated regulation is being changed. Doing this will fulfill the president’s commitment to allow consumer’s access to these fuels year-round, expand consumer choice, and eliminate confusion at the pump.
Should you require any further information, please let us know. We look forward to your timely response.