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E15 Bill Stalled
Monday, July 24, 2017 8:22AM CDT

By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will not take up a bill that would have allowed for E15 sales year-round before the August recess, the committee decided Thursday evening.

Several media outlets had reported that the committee would consider the bill next week.

Growth Energy Chief Executive Officer Emily Skor said in a statement to DTN the group will continue to push for the bill's passage.

"We are disappointed the EPW committee decided not to consider the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act before August recess," Skor said.

"We will continue to work with our bipartisan sponsors to enact this bill to provide drivers across the country cleaner fuel options year-round that are better for the environment and save Americans money every time they fill up the gas tank."

The bill would change a federal regulation that forbids the sale of E15 from June 1 to Sept. 15. It would extend the waiver for Reid Vapor Pressure, or RVP, to E15. Currently, E15 sales are restricted in nearly two-thirds of the country during the summer months because of ozone concerns.

Ethanol and gasoline are both low volatility. When the two fuels are mixed, the volatility spikes, but only at blends just below E10. As more ethanol is blended with gasoline, the vapor pressure decreases, which essentially means E15 reduces vapor pressure.

Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol, said in a statement Friday that his organization will continue to pursue passage of the bill. Jennings thanked the lead authors of the E15 bill, Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind. Jennings and added, "As senators return to their home states during the upcoming August recess, we encourage ACE members press them on the need to whip up enough bipartisan support to eventually enact this legislation. Meanwhile, ACE also continues to urge EPA Administrator (Scott) Pruitt to grant RVP relief as the Trump administration takes steps to reduce regulatory burdens on American businesses."

Biofuels groups this week have been making a push to move the "Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act" across the finish line.

On Thursday, a group of 26 advanced biofuels and agriculture companies and groups pressed Senate leaders to pass the bill, considered critical to the advancement of cellulosic ethanol and other technologies.

Those groups include the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, or BIO, along with the Advanced Biofuels Business Council, POET DSM, Syngenta, Novozymes, Pacific Ethanol and others.

In a letter, the companies and groups ask Senate leadership to leave the bill as is without amendments. In addition, the groups say the bill is critical to the future of the cellulosic ethanol industry.

"Some stakeholders have characterized S. 517 as a corn ethanol bill," the letter said. "Cellulosic and corn ethanol are the same molecule (ethanol) produced from different feedstocks. Both can be blended to make E15. However, the federal Renewable Fuel Standard sets renewable fuel blending obligations on oil companies.

"With the conventional biofuel standard now fulfilled (at 15 billion gallons per year), all future growth under the RFS is in advanced/cellulosic biofuels. The RFS puts the cellulosic ethanol industry in best position to benefit from passage of this legislation.

"Finally, any effort to attach RFS-related amendments to S. 517 -- even if intended to help advanced or cellulosic biofuels -- should be abandoned and rejected. Opening the RFS to legislative change will destabilize investment and make it harder for cellulosic and advanced biofuels to thrive. Importantly, the current proposal does not change U.S. motor fuel policy -- it merely clarifies that an RVP waiver already offered to 10% ethanol blends is available for higher ethanol blends (because they are cleaner)."

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow me on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN


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