Wisconsin GOP Lawmakers ask EPA to Lift Fuel Blending Requirement to Save Drivers Money

Dozens of GOP lawmakers are asking federal environmental regulators to lift a requirement for Wisconsin drivers to use reformulated gasoline to save people money. The request comes as gas prices have surged to record highs.

A letter sent Tuesday and spearheaded by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to consider waiving the federal regulation for reformulated gasoline. Reformulated gasoline is gas that’s blended to burn cleaner to reduce vehicle emissions that can form smog or ozone pollution. The requirement is part of changes that Congress made to the Clean Air Act in 1990.

In Wisconsin, reformulated gas is required in areas of southeastern Wisconsin that aren’t meeting federal smog regulations. They include the cities of Milwaukee and Racine in addition to Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Waukesha, Racine, Sheboygan and Kenosha counties.

“The thing that’s most immediate to an awful lot of folks that I talk to is the price of gas,” Vos told Wisconsin Public Radio on Thursday. “If there’s something that, by the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen, could reduce the price of gasoline by up to 40 cents a gallon, I don’t know why that wouldn’t be the first thing that we do, to try to help give some real relief to Wisconsin consumers.”

The American Automobile Association said the average price for a gallon of gas in Wisconsin was $4.91 on Thursday — up 30 cents from last week and 80 cents from one month ago.

The EPA can waive the fuel blending regulation if the agency’s administrator finds extreme and unusual fuel supply constraints exist, according to the letter. The agency can also issue a waiver if those constraints were the result of a natural disaster or a similar unforeseen event, and it is in the public interest.

“With the pandemic, swelling prices due to inflation, the war in Ukraine, and President Biden’s Executive Orders impacting the oil and gas industries, we feel all three exceptions have been met, giving the EPA the ability to authorize a waiver of the (reformulated gasoline) requirements,” wrote lawmakers in the letter.

The EPA said in a statement that it’s reviewing the letter from lawmakers.