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E-15 has been in the news a lot lately. Here is where we are today:

  • Rulemaking proposed in January 2021 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to modify or eliminate E15 dispenser labels and loosen underground storage tank (UST) system requirements remains under review by EPA.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late June 2021 that EPA could grant economic hardship waivers from Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) compliance to small refiners that failed to maintain a continuous string of exemptions. However, it left intact the 10thS. Circuit Court of Appeals January 2020 ruling that found refiners seeking a small refiner exemption (SRE) must prove their economic hardship is caused solely by RFS compliance.
  • The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled July 2, 2021, that EPA exceeded its statutory authority in 2019 when it allowed the year-round sale of E15 in most of the country.

So what does this mean for companies that currently market E15? What about marketers that are thinking about it, but have not yet added E15 to the options on the island? Here’s our take:

  • For 2021, the current driving season—which started June 1 and ends September 15—is likely to be unaffected by the D.C. Circuit ruling. In other words, business as usual. That’s because the ruling is too late for any mandates can be put in place.
  • For 2022 and beyond, ethanol advocacy groups will fight back to find a way to sell E15 year-round. These trade groups are strong and well-financed so we will need to watch and see what happens.