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3457 S. Dupont Hwy. Camden, DE 19934

By William E. Powers Jr.

Delaware Farm Bureau President

Most drivers constantly monitor gas prices to look out for price increases and good deals, and nobody looks forward to the price spikes we see every summer. What many Americans don’t know is that a cheaper and more environmentally friendly blend of gasoline exists, but an arcane federal law prohibits the sale of it during the summer months when we need it most. Members of both parties agree the law needs to change to give consumers a less-expensive option and protect our environment, which is why it’s time for Congress to finally act.

This cheaper and more environmentally friendly gasoline is called E15, a blend of 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline that is perfectly safe for use in all cars manufactured after 2001. It has just 5% more ethanol than E10, the fuel that drivers use the vast majority of the time. When you fill up your car, you’re almost certainly using fuel very similar to the E15.

Ethanol is less expensive than gasoline, which is why E15 is 25 cents cheaper per gallon than E10, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It also helps bring down costs for consumers by making the United States less dependent on imported fuel, particularly as conflicts around the world create global supply challenges.

It’s also better for the environment than traditional fossil fuels. According to the Department of Energy, “ethanol improves public health and the environment,” and “on a life cycle analysis basis, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced on average by 40% with corn-based ethanol.” By using more ethanol, E15 is an even more environmentally friendly fuel than E10. Anyone concerned about combating climate change should recognize the benefits of E15, which allows us to cut our GHG emissions from traditional ethanol-free gasoline.

Why can’t consumers always take advantage of this cheaper and more environmentally friendly fuel all year round? A little-known section of the Clean Air Act only allows the year-round nationwide sale of E10, not E15, which wasn’t even in use at the time the law passed. In many parts of the country, including much of Delaware, E15 is not allowed to be sold during the summer months due to air-quality concerns, even though E15 is better for the environment than any other gasoline being sold today.  

The EPA recognizes the value of E15, which is why it uses its authority to issue waivers permitting the sale of E15 during the summer. While the EPA has issued waivers many times, as it did just last week to allow E15 sales for this coming summer, the unpredictability of the waivers and inconsistent regulations around E15 fuel demonstrate why Congress should act once and for all to pass legislation allowing for the nationwide, year-round sale of E15.

Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are pushing legislation to allow year-round sales of E15. These lawmakers support lowering fuel costs for drivers and reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels. Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the Senate; it’s the kind of issue Americans hope their legislators will come together to tackle, and that is close to being a reality.

As chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Sen. Tom Carper has significant power to quickly advance legislation allowing for the year-round sale of E15. By doing so, he would build on his strong record of prioritizing our environment and lowering costs for his constituents. As Carper nears retirement, he should add E15 to the long list of accomplishments that will define his legacy. We hope he will use his final months in office to secure cheaper, more environmentally friendly fuel for generations to come.

Post Author: Mikayla Paul

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