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Energy Tomorrow Blog

An Artificial Solution to Arbitrary Mandates

ethanol  renewable fuel standard  refiners  e85 

Bob Greco

Bob Greco
Posted March 18, 2013

The Renewable Fuels Association this morning tweeted:

RFA Tweet

This is in many ways progress in that it is a de facto admissionthat RIN prices are rising because we are hitting the “blend wall” on ethanol, and that a solution is needed.  Unfortunately the solution in this case is crazy.

 From Platts:

Well-known energy economist Phil Verleger several years ago first brought up the likelihood that the refining industry might need to promote the sale of E85 as a way around the Gordian knot of a 10% ethanol blendwall combined with a rising mandate for the use of renewable fuels plus a decline in gasoline demand in the US…“The obvious solution to the RIN price problem involves no EPA intervention and no regulatory action at this point,” Verleger writes. “It simply calls for boosting E85 sales.”

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Arbitrary Mandates, Real Costs

renewable fuel standard  e15  ethanol 

Bob Greco

Bob Greco
Posted March 15, 2013

In a March 7 blog post, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President, Bob Dinneen claimed that the recent increase in RIN prices is not related to the E10 blendwall, and that the blendwall itself is a myth perpetrated by oil companies as an “excuse for their refusal to move to higher-level ethanol blends.”  He then makes a number of claims that were presumably intended to bolster his misplaced conclusion.  Conveniently, the post does not propose an alternative theory for RIN prices that have gone from 3 cents apiece to over $1, before retreating to about 70 cents today, in less than one years’ time.

The post also ignores that the petroleum industry is only one in a sea of voices raising concern over the negative impacts that E15 and unrealistically high ethanol blending requirements would likely have on on-road and off-road engines and fuel systems, gasoline retail infrastructure and dispensing equipment, the environment, the price of food, food security for the needy, and a laundry list of other health and safety issues.

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Fact Checking AEC’s WSJ “Fact Check”

renewable fuel standard  ethanol blends 

Bob Greco

Bob Greco
Posted March 14, 2013

On March 11, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Editorial Board published apiece accurately explaining where the RFS came from, what the blendwall is, why it is problematic and how it can contribute to raising gas prices.  The following day, the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) sent the WSJ what they claimed to be a “fact check” on the editorial board’s piece titled “RIN Credits for Dummies.”  Ironically, almost everything in their fact check was wrong.

Here are some of the claims AEC made and explanations of why they are inaccurate:

1. A RIN is produced when a gallon of renewable fuel is produced. Oil companies can then split the RIN from the gallon when they buy the gallon of renewable fuel and sell it on the open market. So, in essence, the oil companies are buying and selling RINs to themselves and then complaining about it to the Wall Street Journal.

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The Science is Clear on E15

e15  ethanol in gasoline  renewable fuel standard 

Bob Greco

Bob Greco
Posted March 12, 2013

We expect attacks from ethanol boosters over E15 gasoline, fuel that contains 15 percent ethanol, because their stated mission is to promote more ethanol use.  But, unfortunately for them, the science is clear; E15 has been shown to cause damage in some engines and fuel systems.

Pointing this out, citing tests by the Coordinating Research Council (CRC), an organization that’s the gold standard in terms of automotive research, has drawn some fantastic claims, most recently that the E10 (10 percent ethanol) “blend wall” – the point at which there isn’t enough E10 being sold to accommodate all of the ethanol mandated by federal law – doesn’t actually exist, more on that below. 

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E15 and Check Engine Light Malfunctions

consumers  e15  epa  ethanol blends  rfs34 

Bob Greco

Bob Greco
Posted January 30, 2013

Earlier this week API highlighted new research by the Coordinating Research Council (CRC) on serious potential problems with vehicle fuel systems when operated on E15 fuel – gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol.

In addition to CRC’s research, we want to call attention to a recent paper from Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) that was published by the Society for Automotive Engineers (SAE).  This study examined the effects of E15 on malfunction indicator lights (MIL), also known as “check engine lights.”

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Questions Linger on RFS, Cellulosic Biofuel Mandate

regulation  ethanol  energy policy  cellulosic ethanol  cellulosic biofuels  biofuels 

Bob Greco

Bob Greco
Posted December 21, 2012

Nearing the end of the 2012 it’s worth noting that some things about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) haven’t changed: Commercially available cellulosic biofuel still isn’t being produced, and the nation’s refiners still don’t know how much biofuel they’ll have to blend next year under the RFS mandate. Other than that, no worries, right?

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Judging the Cellulosic Mandate

regulations  epa  cellulosic mandates  renewable fuels standard  biofuels 

Bob Greco

Bob Greco
Posted December 10, 2012

With the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit hearing oral arguments today in a lawsuit over the cellulosic biofuels mandate contained in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), here are some points to bear in mind

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Ethanol and Storage Tank Corrosion

diesel  diesel fuel  ethanol  gasoline  ethanol contamination  rfa  renewable fuels association  ethanol lobby 

Bob Greco

Bob Greco
Posted September 14, 2012

A recent study suggested ethanol might be the source of corrosion in underground tanks used to store ultra low sulfur diesel fuel. Battelle, which conducted the study, checked a number of hypotheses, weighed the data and evidence and came to a conclusion pointing to ethanol

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