EPA caves to ethanol proponents, seeks waivers for E15

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Corngaspic 1Following a recent meeting with several U.S. senators, the EPA backed off its proposal to lower the biofuel content—namely ethanol—in the nation’s fuel supply.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had come under fire from ethanol proponents, including several U.S. senators, for proposing to lower the ethanol content for the 2018 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

In a letter sent to concerned U.S. senators late last week, Pruitt said biofuel levels would remain the same or become greater for 2018.

“While the process for determining the final RVO (Renewable Volume Obligation) rule is ongoing, it would not be appropriate for the agency to prejudge the outcome of the rulemaking process,” Pruitt wrote. “Nevertheless, preliminary analysis suggests that all of the final RVOs should be set at amounts that are equal to or greater than the proposed amounts, including at least 2.1 billion gallons for biomass-based diesel in 2018 and 2019.”

U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), both threatened to hold up confirmations of EPA appointees unless Pruitt backed off an RFS proposal that called for lowering the nation’s ethanol supply. The drop would have marked the first time that the mainly corn-based fuel had been scaled back.

“It’s a great day for Iowa and a great day for rural America,” Grassley told desmoinesregister.com. “Administrator Pruitt should be commended for following through on President Trump’s commitment to biofuels and the RFS.

“The previous proposal would have gone against President Trump’s support for biofuels and what he said to Iowa and the nation and to me personally,” Grassley continued.

In his two page letter, Pruitt also said he’d wait on Congress to learn if the EPA has authority to issue Reid Vapor Pressure waivers “so that E15 may be sold throughout the entire year without disruption.”