Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted March 21, 2014
With winter grudgingly giving way to spring, the guess here is discussion of the flawed Renewable Fuel Standard’s ethanol mandates, higher ethanol-blend fuels like E15 and the “blend wall” will rekindle debate in Congress.
Lawmakers must act, because while EPA has proposed lowering ethanol-mandate levels from 2013, the rule still isn’t final (it was due at the end of November last year) and would only temporarily address potentially harmful impacts of the blend wall – to consumers and the broader economy.
Posted December 10, 2013
EPA held the first of a series of public hearings last week on its 2014 ethanol use proposals under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), during which the National Chicken Council’s Mike Brown observed that the Washington, D.C., hearing basically attracted three groups of people: ethanol producers, corn producers and “the rest of us.”
Quite a bit of truth there. The debate over the RFS finds ethanol backers fairly isolated in arguing that the RFS is fine the way it is and that higher-ethanol blend fuels – like E15 and E85 – should be pushed more aggressively into the marketplace to satisfy the program’s mandates.
The stance has them at odds a number of interests, including consumer and food groups, auto manufacturers, the makers of small-engine vehicles and equipment, turkey and chicken producers, restaurant owners and more. Strikingly, AAA, the venerable travel/motoring organization, has been criticized by Big Ethanol for opposing wider use of E15, which studies have shown could damage engines in vehicles not designed to use it.
Posted December 4, 2013
With the first public hearing on EPA proposals for 2014 ethanol use scheduled Thursday, policymakers should pay attention to how ethanol mandates under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) are affecting regular Americans.
This theme was recurrent during a gathering of diverse, consumer-oriented groups on the eve of EPA’s hearing: RFS mandates are negatively impacting everyday American life, from the fuels we use to the costs of what we eat, and could do additional harm unless Congress takes major action.
Posted November 15, 2013
Before taking a look at EPA’s proposals for 2014 ethanol use announced Friday, first consider a number that must guide the discussion of how much ethanol America’s refiners should be required to blend into the U.S. fuel supply: 132.65 billion gallons. That’s what the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), projects for 2014 gasoline demand.
Do the simple math. Using the government projection, the U.S. supply of conventional E10 fuel (up to 10 percent ethanol), for which the vast majority of cars and trucks on the road today were designed, would require 13.265 billion gallons of ethanol. If the ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) required more, then you’re running into the ethanol “blend wall” – that is, to satisfy the RFS, refiners would have to blend fuel with higher ethanol content than millions of vehicles are designed to use.
Posted November 11, 2013
The cost of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) hurts American businesses and consumers as ethanol production drives up food prices, higher-ethanol blend fuels get less mileage than conventional gasoline and higher blends can damage to engines both large and small.
The Historic Vehicle Association (HVA) and others associated with classic cars are especially concerned with the impact on engines that weren’t designed for fuels containing ethanol – much less higher-ethanol blends – at a time when ethanol-free fuel is getting harder to find because the RFS-driven ethanol “blend wall” is forcing E0 gasoline out of the market, reducing choice for consumers. More on ethanol and the RFS from their perspective.
Posted November 8, 2013
When corn to produce ethanol requires more growing space, there’s less room for other crops, driving those prices higher. Demand for corn to make ethanol is driving the cost of feed for livestock higher, making meat costlier. And when some kinds of meat rise in price, demand (and thus, price) increases for cheaper meat. The American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) and the American Meat Institute (AMI) add their voices to the other food industry perspectives on the RFS that we've highlighted in recent weeks.
Posted November 7, 2013
Check out a new video that quickly and efficiently captures the compelling reasons the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) should be repealed.
When the RFS was created in 2007, the U.S. was in a much different place energy-wise, looking at a future dominated by energy scarcity. But with the shale energy revolution that has unfolded in the past few years, driven by innovative technologies that have resulted in advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the U.S. is producing oil at levels not seen in nearly a quarter century.
Posted November 6, 2013
They’re at it again. The ethanol lobby’s biggest voice, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), issued a press release last week trying to defend E15, the controversial fuel blend containing up to 15 percent ethanol. Only in this case, RFA was defending against an imaginary argument.
RFA claims the development of new vehicle models that can withstand E15 – which research has shown could damage enginesand fuel systems in models that weren’t designed to use it – “shines a bright light on Big Oil’s long-sustained, detrimental resistance to infrastructure build out.”
It’s an imaginary argument because no one opposed the increasing availability of E15-compatible cars. The problem with E15 is the 95 percent of the vehicle fleet that isn’t built to handle E15 and the retroactive nature of the E15 partial waiver.
Posted November 1, 2013
It’s understandable that supporters of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) might be anxious these days. Consider that EPA reportedly is thinking about lowering its 2014 ethanol mandates under the RFS, and that more than 160 members of the U.S. House of Representatives are urging the same in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
Posted October 31, 2013
The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), an international trade association representing more than 84 small engine, utility vehicle and outdoor power equipment manufacturers and suppliers worldwide, is closely watching public discussion of the Renewable Fuel Standard’s ethanol mandates and the push for wider use of E15 fuel. That’s because the small engines its members build and supply aren’t designed for higher ethanol blends. A look at E15 from OPEI and others in the small-engine sector.