• Retailers Offering E15 Seen Doubling to 2,800 by 2021: Growth Energy

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    The number of retail fuel stations offering E15 is expected to double to 2,800
    by 2021, ethanol industry group Growth Energy said on Wednesday. 

    Growth projected that the 2,800 stations offering E15 will boost U.S. ethanol
    consumption by 350 million gal/year. E15 is now offered at more than 1,400
    stations across 30 states, the group said, adding that more than 4 billion
    miles have been driven on the higher ethanol blend of fuel.

    The ethanol industry has sponsored a "Prime the Pump" campaign focused on
    building the infrastructure and pumps necessary for distributing higher biofuel
    blends, such as E15, and the group said the nonprofit organization has been a
    driving force behind the increase and the commitment of additional retail
    locations.

    Retailers currently offering higher blends of ethanol include Casey's, Cenex,
    Family Express, Holiday, Kum & Go, Kwik Trip, MAPCO, Minnoco, Murphy USA,
    Protec Fuel, QuikTrip, RaceTrac, Rutter's, Sheetz and Thorntons.

    Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said the success of the "Prime the Pump" program
    "is at risk" if industry efforts to secure a Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver
    for E15 are not realized. 

    "It's a major obstruction for those going the extra mile to expand into new
    markets and grow our industry," Skor said in a statement. "Retailers in many
    markets simply can't or won't retool their labels and fuel offerings each
    summer, which means that E15 is off the menu all year [and] what's at stake is7
    billion new gallons of ethanol demand."

    Sales of the higher ethanol blend are barred in much of the country from June 1
    through Sept. 30 because it doesn't have the RVP waiver. 

    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt last week told farmers at a Kansas ethanol plant
    that he believes that E15 should be available year-round and that EPA has the
    statutory authority to provide the RVP waiver. That comes after President
    Donald Trump said this spring that he supports year-round sales of the higher
    ethanol blend.

    An RVP waiver that would permit the year-round sale of E15 throughout the U.S.
    was said to be part of a compromise deal the White House was attempting to
    broker between the ethanol industry and merchant refiners, who have raised
    concerns about the costs of complying with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). 

    Those efforts, however, were postponed indefinitely earlier this month after
    Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, both Iowa Republicans, persuaded the
    president to abandon the overall agreement at the last minute because they
    objected to language in the deal that would have assigned Renewable
    Identification Number credits to U.S. ethanol sold abroad. 

    Meanwhile, E15 sales in Minnesota hit a record 23.24 million gal in the first
    four months of 2018, a total that already exceeded sales for all of last year,
    the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association (MBA) said earlier this month, citing data
    compiled by the state's Department of Commerce.

    The industry group also said sales in the first four months of 2018 were 21%
    above the 19.05 million gal of E15 sold in all of 2017.

    --Molly White, mwhite@opisnet.com



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