Administration Ignores Risk to Consumers, Pushes More E15 into Fuel Supply
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. In a conference call with reporters following Friday’s rulemaking, Frank Macchiarola, API vice president of downstream and industry operations commented:
“Extending this waiver is an anti-consumer policy that risks causing costly engine and fuel system damage to nearly three out of four vehicles on the road today. EPA has acted outside its statutory authority in granting year-round E15 and rushed through the rulemaking process in order to meet an arbitrary deadline. This premature policy attempts to push E15 into the market before it is ready.”
Implementing the broken RFS program year after year is not a forward-looking energy strategy. The outdated mandate that was established over a decade ago to decrease crude oil imports and jumpstart a domestic market for advanced and cellulosic biofuels mistakenly projected ever-increasing gasoline demand.
All those assumptions were wrong. Thanks to the domestic energy revolution, the United States has been transformed from a nation of energy scarcity and dependence into one of abundance and increasing energy security. America has significantly increased domestic crude oil production, significantly lowering crude imports, while transitioning from a net importer of refined petroleum products to a net exporter. Basically, the RFS is obsolete, displaced by our own, technology-based natural gas and oil resurgence.
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:
As Macchiarola said, nearly 75 percent of cars on the road are were not designed to use E15, and vehicle testing demonstrates that engine and fuel system damage may result from using E15 in 2001 and newer vehicles. Perhaps that’s why 8 in 10 consumers are concerned about the push for E15.
It’s worth adding that, 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.
The reality is market forces, technological innovations and investments by the oil and natural gas industry have combined with increased domestic crude oil production to render the RFS outdated. We continue to urge lawmakers to work together to find meaningful and long-term solutions that address the potential harm that the RFS could bring to the nation’s consumers through higher energy costs and repairs to their engines. In the meantime, the administration needs to reconsider the decision to allow year-round sale of E15.
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.