U.S. senators introduce bill to expand E15 gasoline sales, with support from oil group

By Stephanie Kelly

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. senators from Nebraska and Minnesota introduced legislation on Tuesday that would expand national sales of E15, gasoline with a higher blend of ethanol, after the bill first won support from an oil industry trade group, Senator Deb said. Fischer from Nebraska with Reuters.

The legislation, introduced by Fischer and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and supported by the American Petroleum Institute (API), marked a major victory for the ethanol industry and corn farmers who have tried repeatedly to increase sales of E15 but have obstacles before them.

While it is not known whether the Bill has the support it needs to pass the House and Senate to become law, the support of the oil industry has raised a significant political hurdle.

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US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) anti-smog regulations currently restrict summer sales of E15, although research has shown that the blend may not produce higher smog percentages compared to blend 10 % called E10 which is now sold all year round.

Reuters reported this month that the API began collaborating with biofuel industry groups on legislation after governors from major Midwestern corn-producing states earlier this year asked the EPA to allow expanded sales of E15 in their states. The governors proposal raised concerns in the oil industry about fuel regulations that varied from state to state.

“We have good support,” Fischer told Reuters. “When you look at the impact it’s going to have, especially on the central part of the United States, the Midwest and part of the south, I think it’s very important.”

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Fischer and Klobuchar’s legislation, if passed, would nullify the governors’ request and avoid the expansion of the E15 patchwork, Fischer said.

“By allowing E15 to be sold year-round nationwide while preserving access to lower ethanol gasoline blends, this bipartisan legislation strengthens the reliability of the fuel supply chain and ensures that American consumers have access to the fuels that they feel every day,” said Will Hupman, API vice president of downstream policy.

The legislation also has the support of Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, a co-sponsor of the bill. Cramer’s support is significant, because North Dakota is one of the top oil-producing states, Fischer said.

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Organizations including the API, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the National Farmers Union wrote to congressional leaders this month to urge them to pass legislation to increase E15 sales nationwide.

“We are grateful to Sens. Fischer, Klobuchar, and other renewable fuel supporters in the Senate for introducing this legislation, which brings much-needed consistency and stability to the market,” said RFA President Geoff Cooper, after after Tuesday’s legislative announcement.

(Reporting by Stephanie Kelly; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Stephen Coates)

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