Thursday, June 18, 2015

Officials at odds over Renewable Fuel Standard rules but agree that EPA is dragging its feet

Industry officials on both sides of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) argument are at odds over Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rules and upset with continued delays that have created uncertainty in the marketplace, Spencer Chase reports for Agri-Pulse.

Oil and ethanol leaders said EPA's most recent proposal ignores "the desires of the American consumer," Chase writes. American Petroleum Institute president and CEO Jack Gerard said. “I believe consumers are becoming more and more aware of what the ethanol blend is doing, and that's why there are even more dispensaries, more gas pumps if you will, that dispense E85, [but] you're not seeing a significant uptick in the consumption of E85 . . . consumer interests should come ahead of ethanol interests.”

Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen disagreed, "saying proper implementation of the RFS would prove the 'blend wall'—a term signifying the maximum amount of ethanol American consumers will buy—is an artificial construct," Chase writes. Dinneen said, “There's nothing wrong with the RFS that can't be fixed by what is right with the RFS. EPA needs to read the statute and implement a program that Congress put in place because it was working. If EPA allows the program to work, the market will break the blend wall.”

Gerard said data from the Energy Information Administration shows an "increased demand for E0, gasoline sold without any added ethanol," Chase writes. But Dinneen says Gerard is misinterpreting the data. Dinneen said, “If, in fact, you look at how much blending has occurred over the last year, ethanol blending has continued to increase. The only ones that are calling for E0 are those folks representing the interests of the status quo that don't want to see renewable fuels increase in this country and want to scare consumers into thinking that ethanol is bad for their engines.”

Dinneen did say that "the 'story of the RFS' isn't about the success of the industry but rather 'EPA's mismanagement of a really good program that Congress had laid out for them,' making the program a constant target for legislative action," Chase writes.

"Even so, Gerard said he and many others hope that 2015 could be the year for potential legislative action causing significant RFS reform," Chase writes. Gerard said,  “Clearly the momentum [for RFS reform] is building,” Gerard said. “Quite candidly, the best approach is for all the parties to come together and resolve it, but as you can see, there's some who have no interest in resolving this who just continue to push for more and more and more, and now I think we've clearly put the American consumer at risk, and I think you're going to see more and more folks come back and say, ‘Enough is enough; we've got to fix it.'” (Read more)

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