Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted October 2, 2014
The absurdity surrounding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) continues:
Those Late 2014 Ethanol Requirements – EPA now is 10 months late with setting this year’s requirements for ethanol use. Under the RFS, the agency is required to tell obligated parties, like refiners, how much ethanol they’re required to use in a calendar year by November of the previous year. Thus, requirements for 2014 ethanol use were due in November, 2013.
As it is we’re getting closer to the point where the absurd becomes the ridiculous, with the growing possibility EPA could end up setting 2014’s requirements in 2015. It would be like something from one of the late, great Johnny Carson’s “Carnac the Magnificent” sketches: “Oh Unfortunate Ones, here’s how much ethanol you should have used …”
Posted September 9, 2014
If you’re keeping track at home – and we sure are – EPA is now nine months late in issuing ethanol-use requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2014. That’s no typo. EPA is nine months late with its ethanol rule for this year.
By law EPA was required to set 2014 ethanol-use levels last November, 2013. You know, so that folks obligated under the RFS to blend ethanol into the nation’s fuel supply could actually plan to comply with the law
Posted August 7, 2014
Answers: The monthly mortgage payment, the carpool getting you to your first day at work, the flight to your Tahiti vacation, that Mother’s Day card. And … finalizing annual ethanol requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
Question: What are some things that shouldn’t be late?
OK, so most people understand the importance of timeliness in the first four items above. Yet, for the nation’s refining sector, EPA's annual responsibility to establish how much ethanol must be blended into the nation’s fuel supply under the RFS also is a big deal.
The RFS tasks EPA with setting ethanol requirements for the next calendar year by Nov. 30 of the preceding year. That way, refiners can make plans to comply with the RFS. Setting the requirements, on time, is EPA’s job. So, how’s the agency been doing lately? Not too well, as the following graphic illustrates.
Posted June 18, 2014
Almost half of 2014 is behind us, and yet EPA still hasn’t finalized the ethanol requirements for this year. This is not a recipe for predictability and reliability in the gasoline markets, and the administration’s inability to meet the congressionally-mandated deadline of November 30th is a clear example of how unworkable the RFS is.
Posted April 15, 2014
Yesterday we looked started looking at the oil and natural gas industry’s economic impact on individual states with a focus on Kentucky. Today, let’s talk about the importance of having the right energy policies in place to avoid negative impacts on local economies and individual consumes. Again, we’ll consider Kentucky.
Last month White Castle restaurant chain CEO Lisa Ingram wrote an op-ed piece for the Louisville Courier-Journalthat explained how the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is having local, negative impact. Though the first White Castle opened in Wichita, Kan., nearly a century ago, Ingram writes, the chain has deep ties to Kentucky and serves more customers in Louisville than all but a few other markets. The city is home to one of the company’s frozen food plants, which employs nearly 200.
Yet the RFS – energy policy that has become obsolete and counter-productive in the midst of the U.S. domestic energy revolution – is putting upward pressure on food prices by requiring ever-increasing use of ethanol in the fuel supply.
Posted February 24, 2014
In recent years we’ve regularly disagreed with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) because its ethanol mandates could harm consumers and the broader economy. The conversation with Big Ethanol has been, well, spirited. That said, hats off to RFA for including an oil and natural gas industry executive as one of the keynote speakers at the recent National Ethanol Conference (NEC).
Marathon Petroleum’s David Whikehart, director of product supply and optimization, was invited, said RFA’s Bob Dinneen, because “it is critical that we be open to the message of our customer.” A constructive view for sure.
The oil and natural gas industry supports ethanol and other renewable fuels. We are the ethanol industry’s biggest customer. Yet, the ethanol mandates in the RFS potentially could result in damaged vehicle engines as well as powerand marine equipment and already have played a part in higher food costs and other consumer impacts recently. All of the above threaten to erode critical public support for renewable fuels, which is why the RFS should be repealed.
Posted January 31, 2014
We’ve written quite a bit about bad things that could occur because of the Renewable Fuel Standard’s (RFS) mandates for ever-increasing ethanol use in the fuel supply – from potential damage to vehicle engines and small power equipment engines tobroader impacts in the economy. A study by NERA Economic Consulting warned that RFS mandates could lead to fuel rationing and supply shortages that by 2015 could drive up gasoline costs 30 percent and the cost of diesel by 300 percent.
Now EPA is in the last lap in the process to set ethanol use levels for 2014. The agency’s proposal is reduced from where it was in 2013. EPA even acknowledged the ethanol “blend wall” – the point where, to satisfy the RFS, refiners have to blend fuel with higher ethanol content than millions of vehicles are designed to use.
EPA should follow through and set this year’s mandate so we avoid the blend wall and its onerous impacts this year. For a permanent solution, Congress should repeal the RFS.
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 22, 2013
Three new papers released by Iowa State University’s Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) try to portray E85 fuel as both a solution to the ethanol “blend wall” created by the Renewable Fuel Standard’s (RFS) mandates and as a reason to set ethanol volume mandates beyond what can safely be consumed as conventional E10 gasoline. Unfortunately, the papers contain deficiencies, omit key facts, rely too much on hoped-for outcomes and confuse the role of consumers and market signals.
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.