March 19, 2019 | Vol. 69, No. 6
Dear PEI Member:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a rulemaking process March 12 to grant E15 a summertime fuel volatility waiver that would allow the blend to be sold year-round nationwide. A public hearing on the proposal will be held March 29 in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Details on the public comment period will be announced when the proposal is published in the Federal Register.
Although even minor rulemakings typically take at least 90 days, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a press release, “Consistent with President Trump’s direction, EPA is working to propose and finalize these changes by the summer driving season.”
A fuel's volatility is typically measured by its Reid vapor pressure (RVP). In most jurisdictions, the maximum RVP for non-flex fuel vehicles from June 1 to Sept. 15 is 9 psi. E10’s RVP is about 10. However, using its authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA), the EPA in 1991 granted E10 a 1-pound waiver, thereby putting the fuel under the summertime limit.
E15 has an RVP comparable to that of E10. However, EPA’s 2011 approval of E15 for model-year 2001 and newer vehicles did not include a summertime RVP waiver. The proposed rule would eliminate this disparate treatment by granting E15 a 1-pound waiver, thereby making the year-round sale of the higher-blend fuel legal.
Ethanol advocacy groups praised the proposal.
“Today’s proposed rule means EPA is one step closer to making good on President Trump’s promise to allow year-round sales of E15,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).
“This rule is a critical milestone for rural Americans who make renewable biofuels and for all American drivers, who may soon have a cleaner, more affordable, higher-octane fuel all year long,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor in a statement.
However, the American Petroleum Institute (API) called the step a “lose-lose” for American consumers, noting that older vehicles are not warranted for E15, and the fuel could “damage vehicle engines and fuel systems—potentially leaving Americans to pay expensive car repair bills due to bad policy out of Washington.”
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The Petroleum Marketers Association of America (PMAA) agreed, saying, “[S]erious compatibility issues with UST [underground storage tank] systems and automobiles must be resolved before E15 can be safely sold year-round.”
Ethanol advocates worry that the E15 rulemaking could be delayed because the proposal also provides complicated and controversial new safeguards against manipulation of the market for renewable identification numbers (RINs), the mechanism used to track the production, use, and trading of biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard. RFA has signaled it will encourage the EPA to separate the E15 and RIN reform provisions to allow faster action on E15.
Even assuming the E15 rulemaking is concluded without major changes, a court fight is likely. Opponents claim the EPA’s authority to grant a waiver under the CAA extends only to E10. If so, Congress would have to amend the CAA to include E15 before the higher-blend fuel could be sold year-round.
CALIFORNIA CONDITIONALLY BANS TWO FROM RETAIL FUELING BUSINESS
The alleged violations by Azad Amiri and Sarbjit S. Kang, which occurred at 11 fueling facilities in six northern California counties, included operating facilities without permits, failing to conduct required testing and maintenance, failing to monitor for leaks, and unlawfully abandoning tanks. The defendants also were alleged to have engaged in deceptive business practices to avoid liability, such as creating shell companies and abusing the discovery process.
Under the settlement, Amiri and Kang can only own or operate fueling facilities in the future if they meet a series of strict conditions and requirements.
Amiri, Kang and 13 other defendants also must pay a combined $1 million fine to the State Water Pollution Cleanup and Abatement account, with the possibility of an additional $3.25 million penalty if additional violations occur in the next 5 years.
WOMEN CONFERENCE EARLY BIRD DEADLINE
General sessions at this year’s conference feature an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, an author of four Pulitzer-nominated books (including the Oprah pick Hard Won Wisdom), and PEI Executive Vice President Rick Long’s surprising predictions about the future of our industry. Unparalleled networking opportunities and stimulating roundtable discussions will boost the event’s energy—and your takeaways—even more.
Registration fees through March 20 are $495 for PEI Women Members ($595 for non-PEI Women members). Beginning March 21, rates increase by $100. An optional pre-conference trolley tour of Old Town Scottsdale is $55.
For all the details and registration and hotel links, click here.
Register today—or forward this to someone in your organization who could benefit from this special conference.
VERMONT SETTLES MTBE LITIGATION
Under the terms of the settlement, Vermont may still pursue relief under the state’s environmental clean-up laws for any newly discovered MTBE contamination.
ISSUES UST COMPLIANCE ADVISORY
The 2015 federal underground storage tank (UST) regulations required owners and operators in Indian Country and non-SPA states and territories to complete the first of these tests and inspections by Oct. 13, 2018. In the compliance advisory, EPA OUST notes that completing these requirements on time is a concern at some UST facilities.
PROPOSES OVERTIME RULE
The Obama-era rule, which was overturned Aug. 31, 2017 by a federal district court, would have raised the minimum salary threshold for the Fair Labor Standards Act’s “white collar exemption” from $23,660 to $47,476 per year.
The new rulemaking proposes increasing the threshold to $35,308. It also replaces automatic threshold increases with periodic reviews. Additional increases would require a notice-and-comment rulemaking process.
The DOL estimates the proposed rule will make 1 million additional U.S. workers eligible for overtime. The 2016 rule would have granted overtime eligibility to an estimated 4.7 million more Americans. Once the rule is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 60 days to submit comments.
service company. Frontier Fuel Service LLC, 7362
W. Parks Hwy. #235, Wasilla, AK 99623, applied for service and construction
division membership. Aimee Campbell is office manager for the firm, which
was established in 2016. Frontier Fuel Service LLC is a bulk fuel facility
service and training company that also does compliance, safety and
environmental training, tank farm inspections, marine header system pressure
testing, fuel dispenser installation, POS system installation and service,
and deconstruction of decommissioned fuel tanks. Sponsored for PEI
membership by William Mascott, Mascott Equipment Company, Inc., Portland,
Mississippi service company. Parish Petroleum LLC, 1089 Old Hwy 27 Rd. 1, Crystal Springs, MS 39059, applied for service and construction division membership. Wayne Parish is owner of the firm, which was established in 2017. Parish Petroleum LLC performs Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) testing and provides installation and removal services. Sponsored for PEI membership by Alex Ralston, Petcon Inc., Jackson, Mississippi.
ADMITTED TO PEI
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The TulsaLetter (ISSN 0193-9467) is published two or three times each month by the Petroleum Equipment Institute. Richard C. Long, Editor. Opinions expressed are the opinions of the Editor. Basic circulation confined to PEI members.