8 Midwest states seek permanent waiver to sell E15 gas

Associated Press
Permanent waiver supported by eight Midwest governors would allow each state to continue selling ethanol-blended gas year-round without restriction.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Governors from eight Midwest states including Wisconsin have asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a permanent waiver that will allow each state to continue selling ethanol-blended gas year-round without restriction.

The EPA's decision last week to suspend restrictions of summer sales of the lower-carbon, lower-cost E15 gasoline is temporary and only applies to the 2022 summer driving season.

E15 is usually prohibited between June 1 and Sept. 15 because of concerns that it adds to smog in high temperatures.

“During a time of continued supply chain disruptions and rising inflation, I continue to seek ways to support Wisconsin families,” said Gov. Tony Evers. “I am proud to join my colleagues as we once again advocate for the use of E15.”

E15, or Unleaded 88, is a mix of regular gasoline and 15% ethanol, a plant-based fuel typically made from corn, and is cheaper for consumers.

“The Governor continues to lead on issues to positively impact Wisconsinites – whether it’s helping consumers with gas prices at the pump or ensuring farmers have a market for their corn,” said Randy Romanski, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

The bipartisan group of governors from Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin sent a joint letter to EPA Administrator Michael Reagan formally requesting the waiver.

"This letter sends the clear message that renewable fuels are the immediate solution to high gas prices, lower emissions, and restoring our energy independence, and we are proud to stand up and take this historic action," said Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The Renewable Fuels Association, which promotes use of ethanol, embraced the states' action.

"These governors should be applauded for pursuing a simple regulatory solution that will allow consumers in their states to benefit from E15's lower cost and lower emissions 365 days a year," said Geoff Cooper, the association's president and CEO. "Once this notification is approved by EPA, it will mean lower pump prices for drivers in these eight states, lower tailpipe pollution, a more secure energy supply, and a more vibrant rural economy."

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden traveled to corn-rich Iowa to announce that his administration will temporarily allow E15 gas, which is blended with 15% ethanol, to be sold this summer to help ease gas prices.

Biden administration officials said the action will save drivers an average of 10 cents per gallon based on current prices, but at just 2,300 gas stations out of the nation's more than 100,000. The affected stations are mostly in the Midwest and the South, including Texas, according to industry groups.

“E15 or Unleaded 88 is a fuel that is cleaner, has higher octane, and currently sells at a discount to gasoline,” said Eric Huschitt, President of the Wisconsin Biofuels Association. 

The Wisconsin Corn Growers Association (WCGA) also applauded the action of Gov. Evers for supporting the year-round measure.

“We thank the efforts of Governor Evers and the group of governors from around the Midwest for their work to secure permanent, year-round access to E15, “said WCGA President Mark Hoffmann, “Our growers are proud to make a contribution to cleaner, less expensive fuel choices. 

Colleen Kottke from the Wisconsin State Farmer contributed to this story