Yesterday was the deadline for comments for the proposed blending volumes for 2017 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). One set of comments was submitted by Executive Vice President of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Brian Jennings.
“While we appreciate that EPA is proposing to increase ethanol blending levels from 2016, we are disappointed EPA continues to rely on a dubious interpretation of the general waiver authority which is contrary to the statute and has disrupted RFS implementation for more than a year,” wrote Jennings.
ACE’s comments cover six primary concerns and recommendations for improvement.
1. EPA continues to misread the general waiver authority of the statute which is unnecessarily preventing consumers from greater access to E15 and flex fuels, the Agency needs to follow the statute.
2. EPA needs to increase the implied conventional volume to the 15 billion gallons called for under the statute for 2017 because gasoline use is expected to reach record highs in 2016-2017 and the market can fulfill this demand (without factoring the considerable stockpile of RINs that EPA is allowing obligated parties to hoard).
3. Sales volumes from retailers and fuel marketers who are able to offer E15 and flex fuels prove the so-called E10 ‘blend wall’ is a myth, as ethanol comprises between 13 and 25 percent of total gasoline sales for many stations.
4. The commercialization of cellulosic ethanol production is undermined by the way EPA is applying the general waiver authority and cellulosic waiver credits (CWCs).
5. EPA’s unwillingness to be proactive about Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) and meaningful credits for Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) makes developing new markets for E15 and flex fuels much more challenging.
6. Transportation is now the leading emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the U.S. EPA has a responsibility to update its lifecycle modeling to keep up with the latest science, which will better enable the RFS to play a role in reducing GHGs.
Jennings added, “Ultimately, it is up to EPA to get the RFS back on track by enforcing the RFS the way it has stood its ground on previous efforts to ensure clean air. In the 1970s, oil companies complained that forcing them to remove lead from gas would increase prices at the pump. In the 1990s, oil companies said new underground storage tank regulations would lead to the disappearance of gas stations. In the early 2000s, refiners said reducing the sulfur content of gasoline would destroy engines. Each time the oil sector made these doomsday predictions, EPA stood its ground. Each time EPA stood its ground, the air got a bit cleaner and none of the predicted disasters occurred. Today oil companies are claiming that if EPA enforces the RFS as Congress intended, it will lead to similarly dire consequences. Today, it is up to EPA to see through oil company attacks and to get the RFS back on track.”