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EPA Lifts Summer Ban on Higher Ethanol Blend in Eight Midwestern States

by Anna

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a final rule that allows drivers in eight Midwestern states to use a higher blend of ethanol throughout the year. The rule ends the summertime ban on sales of gasoline blended with 15% ethanol, known as E15, in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. This move has been long sought by the biofuels industry, farming groups, and Midwest governors.

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The prohibition on higher ethanol blends during the summer was in place due to concerns that it could exacerbate smog issues during warm weather. However, the new rule reflects the significance of ethanol to agriculture, with the biofuel consuming about 40% of the nation’s corn crop. The higher sales of ethanol could lead to increased profits for corn farmers.

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The rule is set to take effect in April 2025. The delay in implementation, according to the EPA, is due to concerns about the supply not meeting the demand for this summer. Ethanol producers welcomed the change but criticized the EPA for the delay, expressing disappointment over the agency’s decision to wait until 2025.

While the eight states mentioned will now have year-round access to E15, most of the country will still not be allowed to sell E15 during the summer. However, there are ongoing efforts by agricultural groups to push for a nationwide policy change.

Ethanol, often portrayed as a product that benefits farmers, reduces pump prices, and contributes to cleaner fuel, has been at the center of debates between the biofuels industry and petroleum refiners. The EPA has approved the sale of E15 for cars and trucks manufactured after 2000. The higher blend is estimated to cost consumers 15 cents a gallon less than the 10% ethanol blend.

Petroleum refiners, represented by groups like the American Petroleum Institute, have opposed regional rules, calling for a national standard. They argue that a piecemeal approach could increase costs and affect fuel supplies in the region. The API emphasizes the need for a national policy and supports the Nationwide Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act, which would allow the year-round sale of E15 nationwide.

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