US EPA releases E15, RIN market reform proposed rule

By Ron Kotrba | March 12, 2019

The U.S. EPA released its proposed rule March 12 for year-round E15 sales and reforms to the RIN market.

The E15 announcement follows a decade of efforts by ethanol advocates such as Growth Energy to expand consumer access to E15, most recently through the E15 Now campaign, which promoted the Trump administration’s commitment to year-round sales of E15.

The proposed rule would provide relief to more than 1,700 retail stations across 30 states that now sell E15, often for only eight months out of the year, and remove a key regulatory barrier for other retailers seeking to offer the fuel option to customers. EPA proposes to lift a nearly 30-year-old limitation on E15, which restricts sales between June 1 and Sept. 15.

Much of EPA’s proposed RIN market reforms apply only to D6 RINs, although EPA is accepting comments on this narrow applicability. These reforms include prohibiting certain parties from being able to purchase separated D6 RINs; requiring public disclosure when D6 RIN holdings exceed specified thresholds; limiting the length of time a nonobligated party can hold D6 RINs; and increasing the compliance frequency of the program from once annually to quarterly.

While Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor welcomes the E15 rule, she said the organization is still reviewing the details of the proposal. “We look forward to working with the EPA to ensure that any changes—particularly in the RIN market—do not upend the marketplace, and continue to encourage investment in E15 and other higher ethanol blends,” she said.

Like Growth Energy, the National Biodiesel Board is still reviewing the details of the proposal. But NBB did provide a statement to Biodiesel Magazine.

“We support any additional transparency possible for the program,” the NBB stated. “The more important issue is the small refinery exemptions, which destroyed demand for more than 300 million gallons of biomass-based diesel last year. We understand there is a pending decision about more of these exemptions.”

Dawn Carlson, CEO of FUELIowa, said, “It is ironic that EPA would propose changes to expand sales of ethanol while simultaneously proposing reform that would undermine the RFS, which was designed to expand biofuel sales.”

FUELIowa owns RINAlliance, a company that helps marketers across the U.S. in blending biofuels and RIN management. “The RIN reform proposal would disincentivize marketers who are successfully blending with ethanol and biodiesel and be counterproductive to the nation’s pursuit of energy independence,” Carlson said.

Carlson encourages RFS stakeholders to band together and oppose the RIN market reform proposal, which FUELIowa says is “another attempt to provide a small number of refiners an opportunity to avoid their obligation under the RFS, as they did when EPA granted the small refinery exemptions.”

Comments on EPA’s E15 and RIN market reform proposal must be submitted to the agency by April 29. EPA will announce a public hearing on the proposal soon. To access the proposed rule, click here.


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