The United States Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") will
make a serious mistake if it stands by proposed rules offered for public
comment that would reduce, by 30% or more, the amount of ethanol fuel
blended with gasoline and diesel in the United States.
A February 15, 2013, press release announced that the EPA seeks public
comment for a 60-day period. Comment is invited on proposals setting the
2014 standards for renewable fuel blends. The program includes a number
of production and consumption of ranges for key biofuel categories covered
by the federal government's renewable fuels standards ("RFs").
It proposes a level of ethanol consumption for 2014 within a range of
15.21 billion gallons.
While nearly all gasoline sold in the United States is now "E10,"
i.e. fuel with up to 10% ethanol, the new standards would reduce this
blend to approximately 7%. The EPA contends the United States is at an
"E10 blend wall," i.e. the point at which the E10 fuel pool
is saturated with ethanol. Its comment invitation notes that "if
gasoline demand continues to decline as currently forecast, continuing
growth in the use of ethanol will require a greater use of higher blends
such as E15 and E85."
What's Wrong With That?
DOMINALAW Group pc llo wonders why the EPA would be hesitant to emphasis,
or encourage, use of higher ethanol blends. Consumption of more E15 and
more E85 will further reduce energy dependence on foreign oil. It will
conserve and reduce emphasis on fossil fuels. The E15 and E85 blends are
environmental friendly when compared with fossil fuels, and it will encourage
the development and growth of retail pumping facilities through gasoline
pumps that can deploy a range of ethanol blends, thereby making them available
to the public.
A Mistaken View
The EPA's action is a blow to farmers and environmental groups. The
RFs program was developed by the federal government in an effort to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions and expand renewable fuels while reducing reliance
on foreign oil. The standards are supposed to determine how much renewable
fuel a refiner or importer is responsible for; they are designed to achieve
national volumes for each type of renewable fuel.
America's advancement toward independence on foreign oil and fossil
fuels cannot advance if we retard our progress toward use of renewable fuels.
An Untimely Event
The Renewable Fuels Program ethanol and other biofuels have slowly established
themselves with consumers. The public is prepared for more of these fuels.
The EPA decision to lower the blend volumes and amounts of biofuel to
be blended in the fuel supply is contrary to farm interests and consumer
interests alike. Farmers need additional markets for their product. Consumers
need renewable fuels.
What had been a multi-stakeholder win in the area of renewable fuels and
renewable fuels standards threatens to become a significant loss on all
fronts if the EPA standards stand.
What Should EPA Do?
The EPA should encourage use of more renewable fuels. Its approach should
be to encourage more and more fuel grown from renewable crops on American farms.
DOMINALAW Group encourages farmers to give serious consideration to, and
support, the National Farmers Union's unanimously adopted a September
7, 2013, Resolution affirming its view of the obligation of Congress to
provide certainty to the nation's family farmers, ranchers and consumers
by passing a 5-year farm bill, including renewable fuel standards.
We believe the federal government and its agencies can do only by pursuing
policies that support energy security and use renewable fuel standards
to help wean the nation off foreign oil, promote rural economic development,
and reduce greenhouse gases.
Note: the National Farmers Union Resolution may be read at: