Gearing Up in the RFS Debate
Posted July 27, 2015
More tools in the debate over the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Fill Up On Facts.com has posted four short videos highlighting some of the disconnects between the original reasoning behind the RFS and the world we live in today – which is why the program should be fundamentally revamped, if not repealed.
Video No. 1 discusses the potential risks to vehicles from using E15 fuel – seen by some as a way to absorb all of the ethanol mandated by the RFS above what can safely be blended as standard E10 gasoline – the ethanol “blend wall:”
Other videos show that the founding assumptions behind the RFS are disconnected from today’s reality. The RFS was thought necessary to counteract rising crude oil imports, but today imports are falling because of surging domestic production. The RFS was thought necessary because U.S. oil production was projected to be flat or declining, but today production here at home continues to grow thanks to advanced technologies and innovation. The RFS was thought necessary because of rising gasoline consumption, but today the story is about greater efficiency and more moderate consumer demand. For a number of reasons, the RFS is the wrong policy for today’s realities.
Here’s another tool. API has developed a new infographic that explains why E85 isn’t the answer to the “blend wall.”
API Downstream Group Director Bob Greco and Brendan Williams, AFPM executive vice president, discussed these issues and others during a conference call with reporters, as the groups were filing official comments with EPA on the agency’s proposal for biofuel mandates for 2014, 2015 and 2016.
First, that reference to 2014 isn’t a typo. EPA was supposed to tell obligated parties under the RFS (including refiners) back in November of 2013 how much ethanol would be mandated by the federal program for 2014. Likewise, mandates for this year were supposed to be set last November. As Williams said, EPA’s “perennial tardiness” is one of the main underlying flaws of the RFS. There are more:
- The E15 and E85 high-ethanol blends that EPA is pushing aren’t compatible with most cars on the road today and could put them and consumers at risk.
- Only six of every 100 cars today can use E85, but even those motorists have largely rejected it because a tank of E85 won’t take them as far as a tank of standard E10. E85 has up to 23 percent less energy than standard E10.
- Check the Energy Department’s fuel economy website and it’s clear all of the flex-fuel vehicles show higher operating costs under E85 than for standard E10 gasoline.
“The overarching problem with this regulation is that EPA’s assumptions of growing demand for high-ethanol fuel blends are simply wrong.”
The RFS is a program without a purpose in today’s world – that is, beyond creating an artificial market for ethanol producers. It poses risks to vehicle owners, boat owners, motorcyclists and owners of outdoor power equipment – illustrated in cartoons API recently posted, including the one here.
As EPA sets its ethanol mandates going forward, it should use its waiver authority to set the final requirement to no more than 9.7 percent of gasoline demand. This would recognize the reality of the ethanol “blend wall” while allowing room for ethanol-free gasoline, a fuel for which there’s actually growing consumer demand. That’s what the RFS debate is all about – to ensure that consumer interests are placed ahead of ethanol interests.
About The Author
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Previously, Mark was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor at an assortment of newspapers. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela have two grown children and six grandchildren.