The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

EPA Sidesteps RFS Problems in its 2018 Volumes

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted November 30, 2017

EPA is out with ethanol use requirements for 2018 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), and the big takeaway is that a broken program remains in place – its original purpose superseded by surging domestic oil production and U.S. consumers still at risk. The important numbers:

  • 19.29 billion gallons: Ethanol, advanced biofuel, biomass-based diesel and cellulosic biofuel to be used in the nation’s fuel supply in 2018, much it blended into gasoline.
  • The above total includes 288 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel.
  • 10.5 percent: Estimated ethanol-to-gasoline ratio under the 2018 volumes – significant because API had urged the agency to require no more than 9.7 percent ethanol in the gasoline supply to allow for sales of ethanol-free fuel (E0) while recognizing the vehicle and infrastructure constraints that limit the ability to use higher ethanol-blend fuels E15 and E85

As we say, the unworkable, outdated RFS continues to be imposed on U.S. consumers. For years we’ve argued EPA should repeal or significantly reform the RFS, which was conceived by Congress to reduce U.S. crude oil imports and to spur production of futuristic fuels made from agriculture waste. The U.S. is reducing crude imports, but virtually all of that progress is due to increased oil production here at home:

larger_oil_ethanol_imports

Meanwhile, production of cellulosic biofuel from agriculture waste, production of which Congress hoped to encourage through the RFS, remains relatively small, with corn ethanol making up the lion’s share of what is blended into gasoline today.

Consumers remain at risk because if RFS requirements continue to be implemented, more E15 could be forced into the nation’s fuel mix. Three out of four vehicles in the U.S. fleet weren’t built to use E15, and the fuel isn’t compatible with motorcycles, boats, lawn equipment and ATVs. A number of automakers have said that using E15 could potentially void car warranties. Some model year 2018 cars and trucks aren’t compatible with E15, including BMW, Mazda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Volvo.

Frank Macchiarola, API downstream group director:

“The Renewable Fuel Standard is broken and needs comprehensive reform. Since the RFS was instituted more than a decade ago the U.S. has greatly reduced its dependence on crude oil imports. So this program is trying to solve a problem that no longer exists while creating real problems for consumers. Administrator Pruitt, therefore, faces the daunting task of implementing a broken program that was based on incorrect assumptions made over a decade ago.”

Macchiarola said a comprehensive RFS approach still is needed:

“Finding a meaningful and long-term solution that holistically addresses the potential harm the RFS could bring to the nation’s consumers should be a top priority for policymakers. We’ve seen bipartisan support in Congress to protect American consumers and fix the RFS and we urge Congress to act.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.