The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided to issue an emergency fuel waiver to allow E15 gasoline to be sold during the summer driving season to provide Americans with relief at the pump from ongoing market supply issues created by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
This will increase fuel supply and offer consumers more choices at the pump. The waiver will help protect Americans from fuel supply crises by reducing our reliance on imported fossil fuels, building U.S. energy independence and supporting American agriculture and manufacturing. Current estimates indicate that on average, E15 — gasoline blended with 15% ethanol — is about 25 cents a gallon cheaper than E10.
“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to protecting Americans from fuel supply challenges resulting from the ongoing war in Ukraine by ensuring consumers have more choices at the pump,” said Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Allowing E15 sales during the summer driving season will not only help increase fuel supply, but support American farmers, strengthen U.S. energy security and provide relief to drivers across the country.”
The Clean Air Act allows the EPA administrator, in consultation with the Department of Energy (DOE), to temporarily waive certain fuel requirements to address shortages. As a result of the ongoing war in Ukraine, Administrator Regan determined that extreme and unusual fuel supply circumstances exist and has granted a temporary waiver to help ensure that an adequate supply of gasoline is available. As required by law, EPA and DOE evaluated the situation and determined that granting the waiver was in the public interest.
Currently, in roughly two-thirds of the country, E15 cannot be sold from terminals starting on May 1 and at retail stations starting on June 1. EPA is providing relief by extending the 1-psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver that currently applies to E10 gasoline to E15, which will enable E15 sales throughout the summer driving season in these areas, if necessary. This action only extends the 1-psi waiver to E15 in parts of the country where it already exists for E10. E15 can already be sold year-round in parts of the country that have a Reformulated Gasoline (RFG) program.
Because the RVP of E10 and E15 gasoline used by consumers will be the same (both will be 1 psi higher than otherwise required by EPA or state regulations) EPA does not expect any impact on air quality from this limited action. EPA’s research has shown no significant impact on evaporative emissions when the 1-psi waiver is extended to E15. With no significant impacts on emissions from cars and trucks, it is expected consumers can continue to use E15 without concern that its use in the summer will impact air quality.
EPA’s emergency fuel waiver will go into effect on May 1 when terminal operators would otherwise no longer be able to sell E15 in the affected regions of the country and will last through May 20 which is the statutory maximum of 20 days. EPA will continue to monitor the supply with industry and federal partners, and the Agency expects to issue new waivers effectively extending the emergency fuel waiver until such time as the extreme and unusual fuel supply circumstances due to the war in Ukraine are no longer present.