Since the founding of Sheetz in 1952, “choice” for our customers and innovation have been central to our mission. It started in the 1950s when our doors were among the only open on Sundays due to Pennsylvania’s blue laws. In the 1970s, Sheetz increased consumer choice with the offering of self-serve gasoline. In the 1980s, we took consumer choice to the next level with the introduction of our Made-To-Order menu. Today it offers complete customization on an array of menu items, from sandwiches, to appetizers and pizza.
Since choice and a total focus on our customers is central to who we are, it only makes sense to offer a wide range of options at our gas pumps. That is why in 2015, we became one of the first large retailers to offer E15, which is approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in passenger cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles built after 2001. Today we are the largest retailer of E15 in the U.S.
While choices at the pump have tried to keep pace with new technology, our nation’s fuel regulations have not. During the summertime the EPA limits the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP), a measure of how quickly fuel evaporates, to 9 lbs. Under the current EPA guidelines, fuels containing up to 10 percent ethanol (E10) have a one-pound waiver, in other words can go up to 10 lbs., thereby allowing it to be sold year-round. However E15, which contains 15 percent ethanol, does not qualify for the waiver even though it has a lower RVP and is cleaner burning.
The waiver was written long before E15 was approved by the EPA and now because of a technicality doesn’t enjoy the same treatment as E10. As a result, E15 gets pulled off the market in nearly all 29 states where it is currently offered, and many retailers simply avoid selling higher biofuel blends altogether to avoid the confusion of a summer switch. In a few markets where the EPA requires extra-clean fuels, E15 remains available, but for the overwhelming majority of drivers, this affordable blend of homegrown biofuel is nowhere to be found.
Fortunately, lawmakers such as Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) have joined with Sen. Deb FischerDeb FischerUpdated fuel regulations would modernize options at gas pumps McConnell promises women can take part in healthcare meetings Ethanol fight complicates push to repeal Obama drilling rule MORE (R-Neb.) and others to sponsor bipartisan legislation to update the law. The Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act simply holds E15 to the same standards as any other gallon of gas. Even EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt agrees, announcing his “hope” for a national fix earlier this May.
From a retail perspective, this minor fix would be a major relief to those offering E15 today and remove one of the biggest barriers for those wanting to offer E15. For consumers, it will provide for year-round access and increased availability of E15. Given the value proposition of E15, since it typically sells for less than…