Despite repeated questioning from members of the House Agriculture Committee on the topic, EPA Administrator Michael Regan refused to say when, or if, the agency will grant emergency waivers to allow retail sales of E15 this summer.
“If I give you an answer today I can guarantee you that somebody’s going to file into court and it’s going to be kicked out tomorrow,” Regan responded to a plea from Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-IA) that time is running short and ethanol plants and fuel retailers need an answer soon. “Prior administrations attempted to issue E15 waivers and they were overturned by the court,” said Regan.
In response to questioning by Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL), Regan said the agency just did not have enough time to allow the eight states who requested a waiver for E15 to be able to sell it this summer. “We took that request very seriously, we tried to ramp it up in a timely fashion to have 2023 included, but we’re probably not going to be able to do that,” Regan said.
Regan told Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) why they would not get it done for this summer in those eight states. “Because there would be a significant disruption in consumer pricing and the like if we move too quickly in 2023,” Regan said. “We feel confident that E15 being sold year round will be ready to go in 2024 – 2023 is a little too soon for that rule making.”
The administrator said in order to grant the waivers for the eight states – Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin – EPA has to do an air quality modeling analysis to determine whether or not E15 would “have any adverse impact,” despite the fact that E15 has been sold in the summer months nationwide for the past three years.
Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-WI) took Regan to task for delaying the decision on the eight state waiver, and for not making the decision to allow E15 this summer. “It’s because of your agency’s inability to do your job in a timely manner,” said Van Orden. “It constitutes a crisis for our farmers and other consumers.”
“Use the empiric knowledge that you gathered to get this waiver to use E15 year round, use the same information because it hasn’t changed, so that we can use E15 this year,” Van Orden added. “If the conditions were the exact same as they were last year when I was administrator, I would have issued that E15 waiver,” Regan responded.
Democrat Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota also weighed in on the E15 situation, asking if the administration would take action in time for the summer driving season, but getting a non-answer from the administrator. “We haven’t taken anything off the table and the E15 waiver is being looked at as a potential tool for this summer in addition to the longer term strategy around our response to the eight governors for a year round E15 waiver for those states in 2024,” said Regan.EPA's Michael Regan hearing - Rep. Mike Bost 1:23 EPA's Michael Regan hearing - Rep. Dusty Johnson 3:04 EPA's Michael Regan hearing - Rep. Randy Feenstra 1:54 EPA's Michael Regan hearing - Rep. Van Orden 2:02 EPA's Michael Regan hearing - Rep. Angie Craig 5:13