Inside The Washington Beltway: Year Round E-15; Making Good On Permit Reforms, Rail Agreement

The U.S. House and Senate were both in Washington last week for the first time since late July.

Passing government funding before September 30 remains a legislative focus, however, a potential rail union strike dominated conversations in DC.

Rail Agreement

On Thursday, President Biden and the National Carriers’ Conference Committee of the National Railway Labor Conference and their workers reached a deal to avert a strike.  EMA welcomed the news.

A rail strike would have created significant challenges for our industry, our customers, and our nation’s economy, and we are pleased that this crisis was averted.

We urge all parties to continue to work toward a final resolution. The agreement still must be ratified by the unions’ rank-and-file members, who will likely approve the deal between September 28 and mid-October.

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Permitting Reform

In Congress, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) continued efforts to attach his permitting reform proposal to a government funding Continuing Resolution (CR).

Numerous Congressional Members, on both sides of the aisle, have pushed back on Senator Manchin’s efforts.

Even so, permitting reform was a condition to secure Sen. Manchin’s support of the Inflation Reduction Act.

Senate Majority Leader Schumer is expected to stand firm on his commitment to Manchin and attach permitting reform to the CR later this month.

Year Round E-15

Meanwhile, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the EPA is working to enact a rule that would allow the year-round sale of E-15.

EPA’s announcement comes after a successful legal challenge by oil refiners led to a court overturning an earlier Trump-era E15 rule.

EMA has repeatedly warned both the EPA and the White House of the limitations involving the sale of E15 for the majority of retail gasoline stations across the nation.

Those limitations include compatibility issues with existing UST system components, motorcycles, boats and small gasoline powered equipment and downstream supply chain disruptions.

Supporters of year-round E-15 sales claim that it will provide curb high gas prices and reduces overall gasoline emissions. In a letter to the EPA, NATSO and SIGMA said, “[t]his common-sense step would provide much-needed price relief at the pump while enhancing America’s energy security and improving gasoline’s emissions characteristics. Allowing the year-round sale of E15 in all parts of the country would help enhance supply and lower prices for all American fuel consumers.”

Administrator Regan said the EPA intends to finalize the rule before summer 2023.

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