The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

RFS - Still Late, Still a Problem

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted September 9, 2014

If you’re keeping track at home – and we sure are – EPA is now nine months late in issuing ethanol-use requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2014. That’s no typo. EPA is nine months late with its ethanol rule for this year.

By law EPA was required to set 2014 ethanol-use levels last November, 2013. You know, so that folks obligated under the RFS to blend ethanol into the nation’s fuel supply could actually plan to comply with the law. We’ve updated an infographic we posted in August, when EPA was eight months behind:

 late

Now, reports indicate EPA submitted the final 2014 RFS rule to the White House for review a couple of weeks ago. Given the fact it typically takes the Office of Management and Budget 30 to 90 days to complete its review, it looks like EPA is barely going to get this year’s rule done before it’s next year. When will the 2015 requirements be completed, 2016?

Some with the administration have suggested the 2014 rule coming this late actually is a good thing, because the rule-writers at EPA are dealing with more up-to-date data on actual U.S. gasoline consumption.

Yet, basing annual RFS mandates on consumption doesn’t seem to have been an EPA consideration in recent years. Rather, the agency set ethanol requirements higher and higher with no apparent regard for falling U.S. gasoline consumption, allowing the RFS to drive the country headlong toward the “ethanol blend wall” – and potential harms from forcing more ethanol into the fuel supply than it can safely absorb.

EPA’s lateness with its rule is symptomatic of the brokenness of the RFS – which itself illustrates the futility of central economic planning and the attempt to create artificial markets in a free-market system.

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.