Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted September 3, 2019
The story of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is long and unfortunate – a program that is now largely obsolete thanks to surging domestic energy, whose mandates continue to loom over American consumers without many of the benefits it was supposed to provide. It lives on, protected by ethanol producers and corn state/presidential politics.
That’s the context for RFS policy tweaks expected soon from the White House – more fiddling with a flawed program that will attempt to force higher content of ethanol-blended fuel into the U.S. supply, potentially impacting consumers, while creating an uneven playing field in the refining sector.
Posted June 11, 2019
We’ve warned before (see here, here and here) that the broken Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its mandates for ever-increasing ethanol use put consumers at risk. And that the administration’s recent decision to allow summer sales of E15 fuel – a blend containing 50 percent more ethanol than the E10 gasoline that’s widespread across the country – is an ineffective approach to addressing concerns with the RFS that will only serve to make things worse. Now, we can add another report to the long list of evidence that the RFS needs to be sunset – this time coming from the non-partisan U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).The GAO recently reviewed the effects of the RFS and found that requiring the use of corn-based ethanol and biodiesel in gasoline supplies hasn’t lowered pump prices or significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions – two of the main goals of the flawed RFS program. In fact, the review finds that gas prices outside of the corn-rich Midwest likely increased because of the program. To make matters worse, the review also found that there has been little, if any, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions – a main selling point used by proponents to justify the program.
Posted June 3, 2019
The administration’s decision to allow summer sales of E15 fuel – a blend containing 50 percent more ethanol than the E10 gasoline that’s widespread across the country – is a disappointing and ineffective approach to addressing concerns with the broken Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
EPA’s rulemaking that extends the RVP waiver, effectively lifting a ban on summertime E15 sales, only worsens risks for U.S. consumers – given repeated warnings that pushing more E15 into the fuel supply could harm the vast majority of vehicles on the road that aren’t designed to use it, as well as engines in motorcycles, boats and lawn equipment for which E15 is incompatible. All to help farmers struggling under the weight of the administration’s own harmful trade tariffs.
It may seem obvious, but apparently it needs stating: EPA should be most concerned about the interests of U.S. consumers as it forms policy, not cleaning up messes caused by the administration’s flawed trade policy.
Posted April 25, 2019
To be clear, the oil and natural gas industry is not opposed to ethanol. We are opposed to incentivizing the use of E15 through extending the waiver as the majority of vehicles and refueling infrastructure are not designed for it. By pursuing this policy and pushing more E15 into the market, the EPA is putting consumers’ vehicles at risk for undue damage, potentially forcing them to pay for expensive car repair bills. In addition to being bad for consumers, this proposal goes beyond EPA’s statutory authority. This proposal conflicts with the clear language of the Clean Air Act. Furthermore it is inconsistent with nearly three decades of EPA statutory interpretation of its authority as well as congressional intent. If this rule is finalized, API will challenge this rule in court.
Posted February 27, 2019
EPA’s proposal to reform a key component of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) would only worsen the already broken RFS, a new study finds. The analysis by Covington & Burling for API affirms that the administration’s proposal to reform the market for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) under the RFS misdiagnoses the problem with the RINs market and provides misguided and counterproductive changes.
Posted December 11, 2018
As debates continue over the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its ethanol mandates, let’s remember that when the RFS was enacted more than a decade ago it was supposed to jumpstart a commercially viable cellulosic ethanol industry – ethanol made from the leaves, stems and other fibrous parts of a plant.
This has not happened. Far from it. Despite increased mandates under the RFS for cellulosic ethanol, those mandates have dwarfed actual production. The result is a costly proposition for American consumers and an object lesson on what can happen when government tries to use policy to favor a certain technology. Let’s explore the issue.
Posted November 19, 2018
EPA likely will need to take the lead in rescuing U.S. consumers from the potential negative impacts of the federal ethanol mandate, given the shrinking chance that Congress will pass significant reforms to the broken Renewal Fuel Standard (RFS) program.
That’s the view of the natural gas and oil industry, which continues to warn of the possible consumer risks posed by the RFS, which was launched before the shale energy revolution and has been largely made obsolete by surging domestic production.
Posted October 29, 2018
The Trump administration’s plan to push more high ethanol-blended E15 into the nation’s fuel supply doesn’t sit well with U.S. voters – for the consumer reasons we’ve been talking about for months (see here, here and here).
A new national survey of 1,001 registered voters across the country, conducted by Harris Poll, shows bipartisan concern about expanded sales of E15, which contains 50 percent more ethanal than E10 fuel, which is standard in the U.S.
Posted October 5, 2018
It may seem like there isn’t much “across-the-aisle” agreement in Washington these days, but amid reports the administration wants to facilitate year-round sales of E15 gasoline, a group of 20 Democratic and Republican senators has written to President Trump, criticizing the E15 proposal while urging him to protect consumers and join a meaningful discussion of addressing the broken Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
The rumored regulation, which would expand the sale of E15 by waiving certain Clean Air Act (CAA) requirements related to Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP), is a one-sided approach to addressing RFS-related concerns, the senators wrote, which favors only one industry stakeholder.
Posted September 28, 2018
As President Trump has weighed the broken Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its mandates for ever-increasing ethanol use, he asked EPA for a deal that works for all stakeholders and protects consumers.
Unfortunately, he didn’t get one.
In the current push to facilitate year-round sales of E15 gasoline, which contains 50 percent more ethanol than the E10 fuel that’s standard nationally, EPA is serving up a deal that’s lopsidedly unfavorable to the nation’s refiners and does nothing to protect consumers.