U.S. Appeals Court Considers Legality Of EPA One Pound RVP Waiver Extension To E15 Blends

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard a challenge to the EPA’s one pound RVP Waiver for E15 issued in a 2019 final rulemaking.

The EPA rulemaking extended the one-pound Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver to E15 blends, thus allowing its sale year-round. E15 was previously limited to the winter driving season only when evaporative emissions are low due to cold weather.

Extending E15 sales to the summer driving season has been the goal of the ethanol industry since the inception of ethanol as the primary oxygenate for gasoline blend stocks.

The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) filed the legal challenge arguing that the RVP language under the Clean Air Act prohibits use of the waiver for ethanol blends greater than 10 percent.

Much of Tuesday’s dialogue between judges and attorneys centered around how EPA should interpret statutory language.

The biofuel industry argues that if the rule is overturned, both volatile emissions and greenhouse gas emissions would increase, which is inconsistent with Congressional intent and the goals of the Clean Air Act.

Countering that argument, AFPM said that no Administration is empowered to reinterpret the Clean Air Act to mean something Congress expressly rejected.

Moreover, if there is any doubt over Congress’s intent on this matter, a proposed 1990 Clean Air Act amendment that would have explicitly set an RVP waiver floor of ‘at least’ 10 percent ethanol was rejected in favor of the statute as written.

A decision on the case is expected later this year.

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