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Energy Tomorrow Blog

RFS: Still Broken, Still in Need of Action

renewable fuel standard  rfs34  ethanol  consumers 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted December 2, 2016

The history of the RFS is that EPA’s enthusiasm for the program has seen the agency mandate ever-increasing volumes of ethanol in the fuel supply, potentially putting consumers at risk by pushing fuels into the marketplace that could damage the engines of vehicles, motorcycles, boats and small power equipment. At the same time the RFS’ original purpose of developing a commercially viable, national supply of cellulosic biofuel has become submerged in a growing ocean of corn ethanol. In short, that’s where America and the RFS stand today.

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The RFS Reform Opportunity

renewable fuel standard  rfs34  consumers  ethanol  blend wall 

Sabrina Fang

Sabrina Fang
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.

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Changing Point of Obligation Not an RFS Solution

renewable fuel standard  rfs34  ethanol  consumers 

Sabrina Fang

Sabrina Fang
Posted September 13, 2016

Changing the point of obligation under the RFS will not fix the blend-wall problem or address vehicle compatibility. Nearly 90 percent of vehicles on the road today were not designed for higher ethanol blends, such as E15.  And many automakers say that using E15 could potentially void those car warranties. These higher ethanol blends threaten engines and fuel systems – potentially forcing drivers to pay for costly repairs, according to extensive testing done by the auto and oil and natural gas industries.  Moving the point of obligation does nothing to address this fuel incompatibility problem.

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Listen to Voters on the RFS

renewable fuel standard  rfs34  consumers  ethanol  epa  blend wall 

Mark Green

Mark Green
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.

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The RFS and Real Consumer Choice

renewable fuel standard  rfs34  ethanol  epa  e15  e85  consumers 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 10, 2016

We often hear proponents of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) argue that mandating increasing use of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply is about consumer choice. This view is reflected in some of the news coverage of this week’s RFS public hearing in Kansas City.

Yet, when you look at the marketplace and the fuels consumers actually want, the RFS represents restricting choice, not expanding it.

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Good Fuels Story, Not-So-Good RFS Reality

renewable fuel standard  rfs34  gasoline prices  epa  economic impacts  e15 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted May 27, 2016

When you head out for your Memorial Day drive, consider the current price of gasoline – the U.S. average retail price of $2.30 a gallon, which the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says is 47 cents lower than at the same time last year and the lowest average price just before a Memorial Day weekend since 2009. 

Now, let’s all thank the U.S. energy revolution, which is playing a big role in consumer benefits, like those seen at the pump. EIA notes that lower gasoline prices reflect lower crude oil prices. And the global crude market wouldn’t be where it is without higher U.S. crude production. 

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RFS Proposal Doesn’t Protect Consumers Enough

renewable fuel standard  rfs34  consumers  epa  ethanol  e15  blend wall 

Mark Green

Mark Green
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.


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Repeal or Significantly Reform the RFS

renewable fuel standard  rfs34  ethanol  epa  vote4energy 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted April 25, 2016

API’s Vote4Energy event earlier this month unveiled a number of energy policy recommendations for the Democratic and Republican platform-writing committees. Let’s focus on one – a call for the repeal or significant reform of the flawed federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

We’ve posted on a number of issues with the RFS, which range from the negative economic impacts that could result from breaching the “blend wall” to possible risks to vehiclesfrom using higher ethanol-blend fuel E15, to the program’s failure to establish a viable domestic cellulosic biofuels industry – one of the main reasons the RFS was created in the first place. Americans are clued into the RFS’ shortcomings and are concerned – reflected in recent polling. API’s Frank Macchiarola, group director for downstream and industry operations:

“Since the inception of the ethanol mandate a decade ago, the United States has undergone an energy transformation from a nation of energy dependence and scarcity to one of energy security and abundance. It is well past time to reform outdated energy policies to reflect the energy realities of today and tomorrow. … Simply stated, this is bad public policy that creates a potential harm to the American consumer.  And, it must be fixed. The American people agree.” 

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Poll: Americans Sound Off on RFS

renewable fuel standard  rfs34  ethanol  blend wall 

Mark Green

Mark Green
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.

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Cellulosic Shortfalls and the Flawed RFS

cellulosic biofuels  ethanol  renewable fuel standard  rfs34 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted April 4, 2016

When Congress created the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) more than a decade ago, lawmakers hoped the federal fuels program would spur development of a domestic biofuels industry that would help reduce oil imports with millions and millions of gallons of home-grown ethanol – with a particular focus on increasing volumes of cellulosic biofuel made from corn stover, wood chips, miscanthus or biogas. By 2022, it was expected that 16 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuel would be produced, but a couple of other things happened instead.

First, the U.S. energy revolution happened. Our crude oil imports fell mostly because of surging domestic oil production, not the RFS. Through safe hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, American output grew from less than 6 million barrels per day to more than 9 million barrels per day – the growth in domestic production more than accounting for the reduction in net imports.

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