EPA Issues Emergency Waiver For Unleaded 88

  • Friday, 19 April 2024 09:08

Burnsville, April 19 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a national emergency waiver to allow sales of Unleaded 88 (also known as E15) from June 1 to Sept 15 this year.

“The emergency waiver announced today by the EPA ensures the sales of Unleaded 88 will not be interrupted this summer. This is welcomed news for Minnesota’s biofuels industry and a victory for our state’s economy and environment. Unleaded 88 reduces air emissions, lowers prices at the pump, and sustains rural jobs and agricultural markets.

“We appreciate the Biden Administration’s swift action, and thank Senators Klobuchar and Smith, Representatives Craig, Finstad, and Fischbach, and Gov. Walz for pushing for this emergency waiver,” said Brian Werner, executive director of the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association (MN Bio-Fuels).

In February 2024, the EPA approved the permanent, year-round sale of Unleaded 88 in eight midwestern states including Minnesota. The rule, however, does not go into effect until April 28, 2025.

“While today’s announcement is an important step, we need a legislative solution that will ensure permanent, year-round, nationwide access to Unleaded 88. The Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association will continue advocating for the enactment of the bipartisan Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act, which would solve this longstanding, antiquated regulatory hurdle once and for all,” Werner said. 

Minnesota's ethanol consumption rate of 12.71 percent is the highest in the country, and Unleaded 88 is offered at nearly 500 retail locations across the state. According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the average savings for Unleaded 88 was $0.16 per gallons in 2023.

In 2023, annual Unleaded 88 sales in Minnesota reached a new milestone with 127.56 million gallons sold, a 21 percent increase from the previous annual record of 105.5 million gallons in 2022.

Moreover, the volume sold in 2023 was double the sales from five years ago (60 million gallons sold in 2018).

In the first two months of 2024, 20.83 million gallons of Unleaded 88 was sold in Minnesota compared to 18.31 million gallons over the same period in 2023. 

The sale of Unleaded 88 has historically been restricted during the summer driving season because of concerns about evaporative emissions in higher temperatures. The U.S. Congress provided a permanent waiver from volatility standards  for E10 (a gasoline blend with 10 percent ethanol) in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, before Unleaded 88 existed as a fuel. Research has shown that the evaporative emissions associated with Unleaded 88 (E15) are equal to or less than E10.

The EPA has granted emergency waivers allowing summertime sale of E15 in the past three years - 2022, 2023 and now 2024.

In 2011, the EPA approved the use of Unleaded 88 in all vehicles model year 2001 and newer.

For more facts and information about Unleaded 88 and evaporative emissions, visit the Minnesota Corn Growers Association’s backgrounder here.