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Minnesota E15 Volume Hits Record; Future Sales Threatened by Summertime Restrictions

February 17, 2023

E15, State News


Sales of E15, a gasoline blend containing 15 percent ethanol, hit a record 171 million gallons in Minnesota in 2022, according to a new Renewable Fuels Association analysis of data from the Minnesota Department of Commerce.


This represented a 31 percent increase over the prior year due to a combination of more stations offering E15, ethanol’s cost-competitiveness, and steps taken by the Biden administration to avoid obsolete restrictions on summertime E15 sales nationally. However, this progress is at risk unless the administration moves quickly to allow the blend to be sold in Minnesota and other Midwest states this summer.


The Minnesota sales data confirm previous analyses of U.S. demand for E15 last summer. RFA estimated that American consumers saved $57 million due to Environmental Protection Agency waivers allowing E15 to be sold between June 1 and September 15 in conventional gasoline areas, at a time when retail gasoline prices hit a record high. Additionally, the U.S. Energy Information Administration determined, “Last summer, when the price of fuel ethanol was lower than the petroleum component of gasoline, record amounts of ethanol were blended into the gasoline sold in the United States.” EIA specifically noted, “Ethanol's large discount to gasoline drove higher fuel ethanol blend rates, such as E15 … and E85 … which were more attractive to consumers who wanted to take advantage of lower prices.”


However, sales will be severely limited this coming summer unless the EPA takes action soon, due to a 2021 D.C. Circuit Court ruling in favor of oil refiners that vacated a rule allowing E15 to meet the same vapor pressure standard as the ubiquitous E10 blend. In April 2022, eight Midwest state governors notified EPA of their intent to opt out of the 1-pound vapor pressure waiver that is provided to E10, thereby creating a level playing field for E10 and E15. Governors of two other states subsequently issued similar requests. Yet, despite a statutory requirement for EPA to issue regulations implementing the governors’ petitions within 90 days of receipt, the agency still has not responded.


“We are pleased that consumers in Minnesota opted to purchase record volumes of lower-priced, lower-carbon E15 last year,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “However, the clock is ticking for the EPA to take the action required to allow E15 to be sold in Minnesota and other Midwest states this summer. The EPA is obligated to issue regulations immediately in response to the governors’ petitions, and the administration should put its full weight behind finding a permanent solution to allow E15 to be sold year-round nationally, such as supporting the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act.”