U.S. Senators Urge EPA To Establish Higher RFS Blending Mandates For Ethanol; Adopt Year-round E15 Sales

A bipartisan group of 13 U.S. farm state senators asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week to set corn ethanol blending mandates above 15 billion gallons as part of an upcoming Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) reset rule.

The EPA gained the authority to establish RFS blending mandates for 2023 and beyond, after years of following statutory targets set by Congress which set a 15-billion-gallon ceiling on corn ethanol.

The EPA must now set renewable fuel blending targets based on criteria in federal air pollution law, such as the impact on air quality, climate change, wildlife habitat, food and fuel prices, and the availability of advanced fuels.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, the senators said the RFS reset must include “robust” blending mandates to take advantage of recent USDA investments in infrastructure that would provide support for “progressively higher blending targets” in the upcoming RFS rule.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in August announced $100 million in cost-sharing grants for blending infrastructure including fuel pumps, dispensers and storage tanks for blends above E10 and B5 through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP).

The lawmakers also asked the EPA to take steps to restore year-round sales of E15 and to treat biofuels on par with an expected inclusion of RINs for electric vehicles under the RFS.

Likewise, the senators urged the EPA to add sustainable aviation fuel, electricity generated from biogas to existing fuel technologies and blending targets.

Thus far, the EPA has struggled to approve additional RFS pathways for emerging fuels, creating a backlog of requests the agency must consider.

The letter was signed by senators Charles Grassley (R-IA), John Thune (R-SD), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Roger Marshall (R-KS), along with Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Gary Peters (D-MI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Dick Durbin (D-IL). Release of the first EPA reset volume is expected by November 16, 2022.

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