EPA allows summer sale of higher ethanol gasoline blend

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that due to global conflicts pressuring international fuel supplies, it will allow a higher blend of ethanol to be sold in the U.S. for the third consecutive summer.

The agency announced an emergency waiver that will exempt gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol (E15) from an existing summer ban.

Gasoline with 10 percent ethanol is already sold around the U.S., but the higher blend has been prohibited during summer because they could worsen smog during warmer weather.

The waiver was warranted because of "Russia’s unjustified, unprovoked, and unconscionable war against Ukraine" and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, which are putting pressure on the global fuel supply, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said.

Declining U.S. refining capacity is also a factor, he added.

The biofuels industry and politicians in the Midwestern states where ethanol is produced from corn lauded the EPA’s decision.

Geoff Cooper, President and CEO of Renewable Fuels Association, said, "Allowing uninterrupted sales of E15 will help extend gasoline supplies, prevent fuel shortages, protect air quality and reduce carbon emissions."

The decision was "a huge victory for Iowa farmers, American energy independence, and consumers," said Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.

However, environmentalists and other opponents said increased ethanol production can increase carbon emissions because it results in more corn production, leading to more fertilizer use and nitrate releases.

Synthetic and natural fertilizers are also a leading source of water pollution, they added.

The U.S. state leading in ethanol production is Iowa, followed by Nebraska, Illinois, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Indiana.

Most gasoline sold across the country today is blended with 10 percent ethanol, though 15 percent blends are becoming increasingly common, especially in the Midwest.