Jun 14 2017

VIDEO: Senate EPW Committee Holds Hearing on Fischer E15 Legislation

Bipartisan Renewable Energy Bill Would Expand Consumer Choice at the Pump and Increase Economic Opportunity for Retailers

Click here to watch Senator Fischer’s testimony in full.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on her bipartisan legislation, known as the Consumer and Fuel Retailers Choice Act.

This renewable energy bill would expand consumer choice at the pump by extending the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver to ethanol blends above 10 percent during the summer traveling season. It would also provide regulatory certainty and increase economic opportunity for business owners who sell E15 and other higher-ethanol/gasoline fuel blends.

Senator Fischer introduced the bill earlier this year with Senators Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Other cosponsors of the bill include Senators Roy Blunt (R-M0.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).

Video of Fischer testimony is available here. A full transcript is below.

Chairman Barrasso, Ranking Member Carper, thank you for convening today’s legislative hearing to discuss bipartisan legislation I introduced with Senators Donnelly and Grassley, S. 517, the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act. Thank you to my EPW colleagues, Senators Ernst, Rounds, Duckworth, and Moran, for supporting this important legislation. I would also like to thank the witness panel for their willingness to share their time and experience with our committee this morning.

When I first arrived to the United States Senate, I attended a meeting in Senator Klobuchar’s office to discuss renewable energy and fuels. Several of my colleagues were there, Senators Durbin, Harkin, and Franken, to name a few. It was my first bipartisan meeting as a U.S. Senator. In the meeting, we laid the groundwork for including renewables in our nation’s all-the-above energy strategy. We made a strong connection: we all wanted to come together and work across the aisle to advance environmentally friendly fuel options for American families.

The bill before us today, the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act, is a renewable energy bill. It would extend the one-pound Reid vapor pressure waiver, more commonly referred to as the RVP waiver, to E15. Extending the RVP waiver would allow this fuel to be sold year round. Currently, it’s illegal for E15 to be sold during the busy summer travel season from June 1st to September 15th. Consumers who want to purchase it during that time can’t buy it.

In 1990, the EPA granted a one-pound RVP waiver to E10. However, this waiver does not apply to E15 during the summer even though it has a lower RVP and burns more cleanly. As a result, fuel retailers are required to change fuel labels at the pumps before and after the summer season. This leads to increased costs and greater confusion for consumers.

E15 is a cleaner, higher-octane fuel that has been approved by the EPA for use in passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles built after 2001. Currently, E15 is offered to consumers in 29 states including: Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Arkansas, Illinois, Alabama, Mississippi, and West Virginia. In Nebraska we’re known for supporting renewable fuel, so it might surprise you that Illinois, West Virginia, Minnesota, Texas, and many other states sell more E15 than my home state does.

The Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act would expand consumer choice and eliminate confusion at the pump. It does so by ensuring a consistently labeled product is offered year round, which would decrease the occurrences of mis-fuelings. S. 517 will also provide relief for our retailers who have been forced to change fuel pump labels twice a year for a fuel that does not change.

Good business decisions rely on accurate information and stability. Providing the RVP waiver for E15 would ensure retailers have the certainty they need to make sound business decisions that will lead to greater economic growth opportunities in our local communities.

We all want clean air and clean water, and renewable fuels help us protect our world for future generations. Renewable fuels reduce greenhouse gas impacts by an average of 43 percent over gasoline. E15 has lower evaporative emissions than E10. It’s a more environmentally friendly burning fuel.

Mr. Chairman, I have letters of support from multiple stakeholders, including the National Association of Convenience Stores, E15 Retailers, Prime the Pump, the National Corn Growers Association, and Nebraska agriculture leaders. I ask unanimous consent that these letters be included in to the record.

Renewable solutions are out there to fulfill our nation’s energy needs. E15 is one of them.

American families should be able to decide which fuel they put into their vehicles; our bill would ensure retailers can offer consumers consistent choices at the pump year round with less confusion and red tape.

I am looking forward to today’s discussion and I thank my colleagues for joining me on this legislation.

Click here for more information on the Consumer and Fuel Retailers Choice Act.

Click here to view bill text.

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