EPA Should Protect Consumers from the Broken Ethanol Mandate
Posted July 18, 2018
In the decade since the inception of the RFS, EPA has consistently implemented the mandate in a manner that dictates more and more ethanol into a fuels market regardless of whether market conditions can bear such an increase. The ever-increasing volumes of ethanol in the fuel supply – more than can be used in E10 gasoline - inefficiently pushes fuels such as E15 into the marketplace. This puts consumers at risk because three out of four vehicles in the U.S. fleet were not built to use E15, including some model year 2018 cars and trucks from BMW, Mazda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Volvo, among others. A number of automakers have said that using E15 could potentially void car warranties. Moreover, E15 is not compatible with motorcycles, boats, lawn equipment and ATVs.
The RFS’ original purpose, of developing a commercially viable supply of cellulosic biofuel, has become submerged in a growing ocean of corn ethanol. At the same time, the program’s aim of reducing U.S. reliance on imported crude oil is being accomplished by surging domestic oil and natural gas production.
This message was conveyed today by Patrick Kelly, API senior fuels policy advisor, during EPA’s public hearing on proposed RFS standards for 2019:
“Our members’ primary RFS concern is the ethanol blend wall. The increases in gasoline demand projected at the inception of the RFS2 in 2007 did not materialize, nor did the commercialization of cellulosic biofuels. The ethanol blend wall is a real constraint on today’s fuel supply system that makes the statutory volumes unattainable and is currently limiting the use of ethanol to a level below 15 billion gallons. Serious vehicle and retail infrastructure compatibility issues continue to exist with gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol. Congress provided the waiver authority that EPA should use to further reduce the 2019 volumes to avoid negative impacts on America’s fuel supply and to prevent harm to American consumers.”
With EPA under new leadership, there is a new opportunity to evaluate this program and act in the best interest of consumers. Until Congress fixes this broken system, the EPA must protect consumers from higher ethanol blended fuels that threaten vehicle engines and fuel system. While Congress continues to debate this issue, we have yet to see a consensus legislative solution emerge from these deliberations. The American consumer cannot wait as the RFS threatens to disrupt our fuels markets. Therefore, in the interim the EPA must provide some much-needed relief. Kelly:
“We continue to believe the best solution to fix the RFS is comprehensive legislation that includes a sunset of the program in 2022. API continues to work with bipartisan leaders in Congress to come up with a comprehensive approach to fixing the outdated and broken ethanol mandate.”
Read Kelly’s prepared remarks here.
About The Author
Jessica Lutz is a writer for the American Petroleum Institute. Jessica joined API after 10+ years leading the in-house marketing and communications for non-profits and trade associations. A Michigan native, Jessica graduated from The University of Michigan with degrees in Communications and Political Science. She resides in London, and spends most of her free time trying to keep up with her energetic Giant Schnauzer, Jackson.