Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted August 1, 2017
Posted April 7, 2017
A new national API poll shows that American voters have serious concerns about the Renewable Fuel Standard and its mandates for ever-increasing levels of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply. Key findings from the survey of 1,000 registered voters include 74 percent agreeing that federal regulations could contribute to increased costs for gasoline to consumers and 68 percent who're concerned about government regulations that would increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline.
Posted November 18, 2016
As congressional leaders set priorities for the end-of-year session, lawmakers should consider action on the flawed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). There’s bipartisan consensus for addressing the RFS – either repealing it outright or making major reforms. This week, Frank Macchiarola, API downstream group director, conducted a conference call with reporters on the problems with the RFS and the need for congressional action.
Posted October 18, 2016
The Renewable Fuel Standard, created a decade ago to strengthen U.S. energy security and benefit American consumers, is doing neither. The RFS is broken and should be repealed or significantly reformed – with the interests of consumers the top priority. That’s the message API Downstream Group Director Frank Macchiarola delivered during a conversation with a group of energy reporters this week.
Posted June 27, 2016
Two more results from the new Harris Poll on what Americans are thinking about key energy issues.
First, 77 percent of registered voters say they’re concerned about government requirements that would increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline. Second, 73 percent agree that federal government regulations could contribute to increased costs for gasoline to consumers.
Both results basically point fingers at the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – which indeed is Washington pushing for more ethanol in gasoline, which experts and studies warn could impact consumers at the gasoline pump and at the repair shop.
Posted May 18, 2016
One unsettling aspect of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is that for some time it has appeared – from public statements anyway – that EPA considers the program an ongoing experiment, testing the ability of government policy to change or modify the behavior of free markets and the fueling choices of individual consumers, with consumers as the guinea pigs.
The results were logged in long ago: Flaws in the RFS and EPA’s management of the program mark it for repeal or significant reform. RFS mandates for increasing ethanol use in the nation’s fuel supply threaten breaching the ethanol “blend wall,” risking impacts to the broader economy and consumers’ wallets.
Just as unfortunate is EPA’s apparent lack of concern for U.S. consumers –reflected in the agency’s proposals for 2017 volume levels, which will test the blend wall, the point where required use of ethanol in the fuel supply exceeds the safe level of 10 percent.
Posted April 6, 2016
We can sum up new polling on Americans’ perceptions of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its potential impact on their lives in a word: concerned.
Make that very concerned – about potential damage to their vehicles, about the broad economic effects of breaching the ethanol “blend wall” and about diverting corn away from the global food supply to manufacture ethanol.
Posted March 25, 2016
To understand why the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) must be repealed or significantly reformed, start at the “blend wall.”
The ethanol blend wall is where – because of the RFS’ mandates – more ethanol must be blended into the nation’s fuel supply than can be absorbed as E10 gasoline – gasoline containing up to 10 percent ethanol, which is standard across the country. Put another way, when ethanol makes up more than 10 percent of the total U.S. fuel mix, you’ve breached the blend wall.
At that point refiners have few options. They can produce E15 and E85, fuels containing higher volumes of ethanol, or they can comply with the RFS by reducing the amount of fuel supplied to the domestic market. Neither is a good choice for American consumers.
Posted December 28, 2015
The White House has honey bees – an estimated 70,000 of them that call a hive near the South Lawn home. Yet, nationwide bees are struggling. Researchers have warned of declining numbers of bees and other “pollinators” – to the point that last year the White House set up a task force to develop a bee strategy to help reverse the trend. From the White House blog:
Increasing the quantity and quality of habitat for pollinators is a major part of this effort—with actions ranging from the construction of pollinator gardens at Federal buildings to the restoration of millions of acres of Federally managed lands and similar actions on private lands. To support these habitat-focused efforts, USDA and the Department of Interior are today issuing a set of Pollinator-Friendly Best Management Practices for Federal Lands, providing practical guidance for planners and managers with land stewardship responsibilities.
We acknowledged the bee situation in a post nearly a year ago, noting that the large-scale conversion of grasslands to grow crops for a number of uses was crowding out bees, butterflies and others – including increasing acreage being devoted to ethanol production. Now a new, comprehensive study by University of Vermont researchers underscores the point – that U.S. wild bees are disappearing in many of the country’s most important farmlands and that increased demand for corn to use in biofuel production is a significant part of the problem.
Posted November 30, 2015
In finalizing ethanol volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the EPA is basically testing the limits of the ethanol “blend wall” and the potential impacts of breaching it. Unfortunately, the guinea pigs in the experiment are U.S. consumers – their wallets, their vehicles.
That’s what we draw from EPA’s requirements for levels of corn ethanol and other renewable fuels that must be blended into the U.S. fuel supply. EPA officially set requirements for 2014 (two years late), 2015 (a year late) and 2016. Requirements for 2016 are the most significant – 18.11 billion gallons, which is lower than what Congress originally required when it created the RFS, but higher than what EPA proposed in May (17.4 billion gallons).