Fueling America’s Shift to a Green Economy

What is

As our planet warms faster, more Americans will suffer from pollution-related health problems as the U.S. continues to send billions of dollars overseas every year because of its addiction to fossil fuels.

To achieve our goal of a zero-carbon future, it will require different solutions—including immediate fuel options to reduce the harmful emissions poisoning the air and warming our planet. E15 is a central part of that transition.

E15 is a fuel blend consisting of 15% renewable biofuel. It can immediately provide Americans with an easy way to lower their carbon footprint without sacrificing fuel efficiency or buying a new vehicle – and it can significantly reduce transportation emissions today.

E15 is homegrown, cleaner, and less expensive than petroleum. It’s compatible with almost all existing cars and trucks, and it’s a promising opportunity for family farmers and rural communities. Consumers have already driven 17 billion miles on E15 – two miles for every person on Earth. It’s efficient, affordable, and available.


E15 presents an immediate opportunity to build bipartisan consensus on a variety of national priorities. Leaders from both parties recognize the benefits of E15, which fall into four major categories: Climate, Environmental Justice, Rural Development & Job Creation, and Health.

E15 helps fight climate change.

More renewable fuels mean more emissions reductions from the almost 257 million gas-powered light-duty vehicles on the road today. Ethanol is 42% cleaner than traditional gasoline and getting even cleaner with innovations in technology and sustainable farming.

E15 creates clean energy jobs.

E15 would reduce our dependence on foreign oil and drive domestic demand for an additional 2 billion bushels of grain supplied from the same acreage farmers use today. E15 would provide price stability for grain in a long-oversupplied market – allowing family farmers to stay in business – and generate good-paying jobs and capital investments in America’s rural communities.

E15 makes our communities healthier.

Independent research shows that biofuel blends reduce toxic vehicle emissions by up to 50%. Researchers also found that introducing ethanol in cities around the world reduced benzene-related cancer by more than 20% – saving lives and reducing health care costs for people in congested, heavily-trafficked areas.

E15 helps ensure environmental justice.

E15 doesn’t require new cars or new infrastructure, making it accessible and affordable to everyone. It saves drivers money at the pump – typically 3-10 cents less per gallon compared to E10 fuel – and it will help clean the air in densely populated urban communities.

How to make E15 America’s fuel


For more vehicles to run on cleaner E15, there are several actions policymakers can take during the first 100 days of the Biden-Harris administration and beyond to encourage the adoption of E15 nationwide.

Strictly enforce the Renewable Fuel Standard and apply the U.S. 10th Circuit small refinery waiver decision nationwide

A healthy RIN value gives both retailers and refineries an added incentive to blend more low-carbon biofuel and break through the artificial barriers that oil refiners use to block E15 from the market. When it was passed in 2007, the RFS was designed to encourage cleaner, more efficient fuel blends with higher volumes of ethanol. Since then, however, EPA has mismanaged the RFS, and federal courts have repeatedly found their actions unlawful. The EPA should enforce the U.S. 10th Circuit Court decision nationwide and apply the court’s decision to any remaining or future Small Refinery Exemption (SRE) petitions. That includes requiring petroleum refiners to purchase Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), the credits used to comply with the RFS, in a manner consistent with the law and in quantities that encourage the reduction of GHGs.

Set volumetric targets according to the clear intent of Congress to increase biofuels in the fuel supply

EPA must implement the RFS according to both the law’s statute and the intent of Congress, by setting strong blending targets for total renewable fuel volumes (RVO) for compliance year 2021 and beyond, restore the 500 million gallons of renewable fuel obligations ordered by the D.C. Circuit Court in 2017, and ensure timely consideration and approval of all future RVOs.

Remove or improve retail fuel labeling requirements for E15 causing unnecessary confusion at the pump

While almost all vehicles can use E15, fuel retailers are still required to label it in a way that can give consumers the false impression that E15 is not safe for their engines. These labels are causing unnecessary confusion at the pump and should be removed or displayed uniformly for all fuels.

Update EPA’s flawed modeling with accurate science reflecting biofuels’ GHG and air quality benefits

The EPA should adopt the USDA’s lifecycle greenhouse gas modeling of biofuels that more accurately reflects improvements in both biofuel production and on-farm sustainability practices. EPA should also update the flawed Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator (MOVES) model to better measure biofuels’ benefits.

Undertake a Mobile Source Air Toxics rule making to reduce harmful constituents of gasoline and related health risks

It’s time for EPA to extend the limit on benzene to include all the toxic chemicals in gasoline. Ethanol not only reduces GHGs, it also replaces harmful chemicals, like MTBE and BTEX, in gasoline. Increasing the volume of renewable fuel in gasoline to 15% will reduce particulate matter and airborne toxins that contribute to hazardous air quality and threaten human health.

Reinstate incentives for Flex Fuel Vehicles in federal fuel efficiency standards

As the next administration revisits CAFE standards, states and automakers should be incentivized to reignite widespread production of flex fuel vehicles with engines optimized to run on low carbon fuels from E15 to E85.

Incentivize safer fuel infrastructure for cleaner fuels like E15 through existing USDA programs and funding authority

As policymakers consider programs designed to roll out charging stations and hydrogen infrastructure for EVs, they should also focus on supporting biofuel infrastructure for the millions of vehicles capable of running on higher ethanol blends. Policymakers should also help fuel retailers replace outdated and potentially unsafe equipment and update pumps when necessary to facilitate sales of E15.

Encourage fuel retailers to make the switch to cleaner biofuel blends

A longer-term policy solution could include providing a 5-cent blender tax credit over ten years to encourage retailers to switch out more expensive E10 and replace it with E15. The Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC), encouraged the blending of ethanol in gasoline and moved millions of gallons of renewable ethanol into the marketplace. When the credit
expired in 2011, refineries became resistant to blend higher volumes of renewable fuel. Instead of putting the VEETC back into force, policymakers should incentivize only higher ethanol blends like E15 and not E10, which already dominates the fuel market. This would be a more cost-effective solution and could quickly lead to more vehicles running on cleaner fuel.

Get the

Since biofuels reduce demand for gasoline, the oil industry has spent years conducting a smear campaign against ethanol. Here are the facts to set the record straight.

Is ethanol environmentally sustainable?


Farmers have become more efficient, while protecting grasslands and forests. America’s farmers produce more than ever before on less cropland. Yields have climbed eight-fold, while total acres planted decreased more than 13%. Precision farming and other advances have led to dramatic reductions in water and fertilizer use per bushel of corn. Ethanol plants have also reduced their energy consumption by 42%.

Does producing corn for ethanol increase GHG emissions?


Biofuels of all kinds, including ethanol, substantially reduce GHG emissions over the course of their lifecycle compared to oil. The carbon intensity of ethanol is currently 42% lower than gasoline, and continues to improve over time. This is comparable to the lifecycle benefits from electric vehicles in many markets.

Can the U.S. produce enough ethanol to roll out E15 nationwide?


Biorefineries are extremely efficient and can quickly add capacity. Within a year of passing the RFS, U.S. ethanol production jumped almost 30% – and it has almost doubled since then. If the demand for E15 grows, the U.S. can sustainably meet it. Currently, there are over 2 billion gallons of idled ethanol capacity available. And, biorefineries can be constructed or expanded within a year.

Would E15 damage engines and require new equipment?


There is no evidence that E15 damages engines, and most retail fueling equipment can handle higher ethanol levels. EPA approved E15 in cars model year 2001 and after. No other fuel mix has been tested more. In fact, consumers have driven more than 17 billion miles on E15 with no reported damage or performance issues. And most retail fueling equipment manufactured after 1980 is compatible.

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