EPA creates waiver for E15 fuel sale in in May

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Eleanor Hildebrandt | May 6, 2022

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a fuel waiver last week allowing heightened levels of ethanol in gasoline to be sold later into the summer.

The waiver is an attempt by the Biden-Harris administration to lower fuel prices as they continue to increase. The waiver allows gas stations to sell cheaper blends with 15 percent ethanol, also known as E15 fuel, to address the fuel supply gaps created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The waiver only extends until May 20, according to Iowa Capital Dispatch, but the EPA can extend the waiver if they see fit.

The waiver affects a small percentage of gas stations across the country that sell corn-based ethanol fuel. Only 2,300 gas stations nationwide offer a 15 percent ethanol blend, compared to the more than 140,000 gas stations across the U.S.

During a stop in Iowa in April, President Joe Biden said the waiver would continue into the summer. There are not any current projections as to when the waiver would be extended nor for how long. Iowa’s delegation in Washington D.C. have pushed for year-round use of E15. Currently, the fuel cannot be sold from June to September because of air pollution concerns.

Iowa delegation looks to biofuels to replace Russian oil

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Eleanor Hildebrandt | March 11, 2022

As gas prices increase because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Iowa’s two U.S. senators are promoting biofuels to replace imported Russian oil.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst both agree with President Joe Biden’s ban on imports of Russian oil and natural gas, according to Iowa Capital Dispatch. The two joined a bipartisan group of Midwestern senators who support the Home Front Independence Act. The legislation looks to increase ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply. The bill focuses on making E15, a fuel that contains 15 percent ethanol instead of the traditional 10 percent, more accessible and widely available.

Russian oil amounts for three percent of the U.S.’s imported oil. Ernst said she believes ethanol production from Midwestern states is sufficient to make up the single-digit percent the country is losing from Russia. Executive Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Monte Shaw agreed with Ernst, saying there is sufficient ethanol production currently.

“Today, there’s anywhere from 2.5 to 3 billion gallons of ethanol production capacity that’s sitting there ready to roll,” Shaw said. “It’s just not being used because the demand’s not there.”

The Iowa bill looking to switch from E10 to E15 blends in the state garnered support earlier in the 2022 Legislative session, but it has since stalled in the Senate. Last year, the legislation did not pass in the Iowa statehouse. It is unclear how long it would take to switch ethanol production from one blend to the other in Iowa and other states.