Increasing the approved level for ethanol that can be blended into gasoline is the number one priority for the ethanol industry this year, and recently support for that goal has been indicated by two major players in Congress and the administration.
Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a recent New York Times interview that he thought government regulations that limit ethanol content to 10 percent should be reconsidered.
“I believe we could go to E-12, or E-14 or E-16 without causing any great problems with vehicle operation,” he said.
Bingaman said the EPA and the Energy Department are currently conducting tests on higher blends and results could be available within a year or so.
Meanwhile, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently said in an interview with Bloomberg that USDA and EPA are in discussions about raising the ethanol blend level, but they have no specific numbers yet. “I do think it’s important for us to look for strategies to make sure the infrastructure of the ethanol industry is preserved, because it is a key component to this new energy future the president’s laid out,” said Vilsack.
Increasing the blend level is seen as the only way to reach the Renewable Fuels Standard, which requires 11.1 billion gallons of renewable fuels, including ethanol, to be used this year. Vilsack says they should not have to change the RFS. “We’ve laid the markers down there and I think we have to work hard to meet it,” he said.