Turn to the nation's most objective and informative daily environmental news resource to learn how the United States and key players around the world are responding to the environmental...
By Brian Dabbs
The battle lines are drawn on the eve of a Senate hearing on transportation fuel with higher ethanol blends.
The legislation in play—which would allow summer sales of fuel containing 15 percent (E15) or higher biofuel—is a nearly non-partisan policy, a rarity in today’s political environment.
The forces now girding for a fight are largely industry members contesting market share.
Petroleum groups oppose the bill (S.517), and biofuel producers argue E15 gives consumers more choice at the pump. The year-round permission to retail E15 would be a huge boon to biofuel producers and representative groups, such as the American Coalition for Ethanol and Renewable Fuel Association (RFA).
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will consider the bill June 14.
Summer sales are now restricted in most counties nationwide due to Clean Air Act smog regulations.
But biofuel groups, along with many lawmakers, say E15 is actually produces less ground-level ozone than fuel containing 10 percent ethanol, which is approved for year-round sales, as well as most gasoline.
“Due to an outdated EPA regulation, retail gas stations are essentially prohibited from selling E15 in more than two-thirds of the nation’s gasoline market,” RFA President Bob Dinneen said in a June 13 statement. The EPA uses the Reid vapor pressure metric to gauge emission rates.
Meanwhile, American Petroleum Institute (API) director Frank Macchiarola said June 13 his group hasn’t conducted analysis on E15 smog impacts. Rather, Macchiarola said the E15 legislation is “intrinsically” linked to a “broken” biofuel mandate, and therefore petroleum companies oppose it.
The renewable fuel standard—which became law in 2005 and was expanded in 2007—aimed to decrease hydrocarbon emissions and reduce dependence on foreign oil.
It sets annually increasing biofuel quotas through 2022. Nearly all transportation gasoline in the U.S. now contains 10 percent ethanol, mostly made from corn, and biofuel groups are regularly pushing higher blend fuels into the market.
Petroleum groups like API say the law overestimated the amount of U.S. fuel demand in the succeeding years, thereby forcing too much ethanol onto the market.
The ethanol blends continue to face compatibility struggles for auto engines, Macchiarola said on a conference call.
“The fuel E15 is simply not ready for prime time. We have both infrastructure issues that have not been solved and create a real, essential cost burden with E15, and we also have compatibility issues,” he said. “You can change the statute all you want, you can mandate the fuel all you want, but if it is simply not ready for the consumer, than we’re going to raise objections.”
Biofuel groups say E15 is cheaper at the pump than E10, but detractors highlight lower fuel economy as a drawback.
A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is wading through a series of meetings with groups interested in biofuel, such as petroleum companies and associations, biofuel producers, convenience store owners, and auto makers.
An overhaul could include stopping the program altogether or providing relief—possibly in the form of tax credits—for advanced biofuel producers, as well as a range of other proposals. The E15 measure could provide an olive branch to the biofuel producers.
Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Mark Udall (D-N.M.) are leading the effort in the Senate.
The June 14 hearing features testimony from the Advanced Biofuels Business Council, the Clean Air Task Force, gas retailer Sheetz Inc., an engine manufacturer, and an environmental engineering contractor. No vote has been scheduled.
To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Dabbs in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rachael Daigle at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)