Iowa AG Bird Leads Multistate, Bipartisan Effort to Hold Biden Administration Accountable on Governors’ Request for Year-Round E15

Contact: Jared Palmer

JOHNSTON, IOWA – Today Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird and six of her colleagues sent a letter to the Biden Administration’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and EPA Administrator Michael Regan demanding they promptly comply with Clean Air Act (CAA) deadlines as established by Congress. It has been over 270 days since Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and seven other governors notified the EPA of their decision to exercise their CAA authority to allow year-round E15 sales. By law, the EPA should have finalized that decision no later than 90 days after receiving notification.

“Iowa and other Midwest states have been more than patient with the EPA and White House OMB,” stated Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw. “The farm economy and consumers can literally not afford to lose the ability to sell E15 during this summer. IRFA members applaud Attorney General Bird for organizing seven states to demand the Biden Administration act on the Governors’ decision. The Clean Air Act is clear, and the Biden Administration is clearly tardy. Any further delay simply plays into the hands of oil refiners who are scared to face competition from lower-priced, lower-carbon E15.”

Attorneys General from South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Missouri, and Illinois joined Bird in demanding the Biden Administration abide by the Clean Air Act provisions.

On November 3, 2021, Gov. Reynolds and a bipartisan coalition of eight states notified the EPA of their interest in utilizing authority granted to them under the CAA to request the regulations for E10 and E15 be equalized, thereby ensuring that lower-cost E15 is available to consumers in their states year-round. On April 28, 2022, Gov. Reynolds and seven other governors formally notified EPA of their determination to equalize the regulations and supplied the EPA the required air quality documentation. Under the CAA, EPA “shall” finalize such a request from a governor no later than 90 days after receiving the request.

On December 7, 2022, the draft EPA rule approving the governors’ request appeared on the OMB docket. OMB is the White House office that conducts interagency reviews of rules prior to their being officially released for public notice and comment. On December 22, 2022, IRFA and other state ethanol trade groups held a conference call with OMB to discuss the draft rule.

After no further OMB action was observed, on January 17, 2023, Gov. Reynolds sent a letter to the EPA and OMB urging them to move quickly in order to ensure the new regulations can be in place by the summer driving season. Since that letter was sent, IRFA has received unofficial reports that instead of moving the draft rule forward, OMB has sent it back to EPA for “revisions.” This is a highly unusual move and is viewed by many as a tactic used to “slow walk” regulations.

“The White House delay of the bipartisan governors’ request is not only unacceptable and contrary to law, it is confusing and frustrating given that President Biden himself took emergency action to ensure E15 was available during the summer of 2022,” stated Shaw. “Biden’s E15 announcement, made in Iowa, was probably the single biggest thing he did to address high gas prices last year, as E15 is routinely selling for 15 to 20 cents less than E10. Why the Biden OMB is slow-walking a permanent Midwest E15 fix that is clearly required under the CAA is mind boggling. Delaying action is thumbing your nose at the Clean Air Act, at Congress, at consumers, at bipartisan Midwest governors, and at farmers and ethanol producers. We hope President Biden will step in and get this moving immediately before formal legal action is necessary to bring the Administration into compliance with the law.”

A copy of the letter from 7 Midwest Attorneys General can be viewed at here.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association represents the state’s liquid renewable fuels industry and works to foster its growth. Iowa is the nation’s leader in renewable fuels production with 42 ethanol refineries capable of producing 4.5 billion gallons annually – including 34 million gallons of annual cellulosic ethanol production capacity – and 11 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce 410 million gallons annually. For more information, visit the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association website at: