The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

EPA is Late, Late, Late

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted November 5, 2014

A couple of quick observations on issues related to the flawed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

First, the ethanol use requirements for 2014 now are 11 months late, depicted in the infographic below:

november

The requirements from EPA were supposed to be issued by Nov. 30 of last year, so that refiners could plan this year’s operations to comply with the RFS’ ethanol mandates. Instead, they’ve been forced to try to divine what EPA might require. Now, with roughly 330 of the year’s 365 days passed, the guessing game turned absurd long ago.

We’ve written about how the RFS became politicized during the just-completed campaign and suppose that delaying the 2014 mandates for political reasons, having failed to secure the White House’s hoped-for result in Iowa’s U.S. Senate race, no longer is needed. Perhaps EPA will act this week. Or next.

On another front, it’s interesting to see ethanol supporters heralding their own survey showing that about 63 percent of model-year 2015 vehicles have been approved by manufacturers to use E15 fuel – gasoline containing up to 15 percent ethanol, 50 percent more than the E10 gas that’s prevalent around the country.

Two questions: 1) What about the other 37 percent of MY2015 vehicles; and 2) What about the millions of vehicles on America’s roads today from earlier model years not designed to use E15 – 90 percent of the fleet, according to AAA?

The response from Big Ethanol.

And here’s why. The vast majority of vehicles built before the current model year – and, again, a good chunk of those in the current model year – are not recommended for E15 use by their manufacturers. Here’s a graphic we posted earlier this week that illustrates:

manufacturers 

It’s not hard to see why ethanol supporters would try to focus on new vehicles. It diverts attention away from the potential damage E15 could do to engines and fuel systems in the overwhelming majority of vehicles on U.S. roads and highways today – as well as power equipment, motorcycles and marine engines, all of which could be borne by consumers. Still, it’s interesting that following the E15 recommendations in automobile owner manuals – something we and the auto industry have been urging for a while – apparently now has the support of Big Ethanol.

The RFS and its ethanol mandates – late and still flawed. E15 – still a risk for consumers.

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.