The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

The RFS Reform Opportunity

Sabrina Fang

Sabrina Fang
Posted November 18, 2016

As congressional leaders set priorities for the end-of-year session, lawmakers should consider action on the flawed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). There’s bipartisan consensus for addressing the RFS – either repealing it outright or making major reforms. This week, Frank Macchiarola, API downstream group director, conducted a conference call with reporters on the problems with the RFS and the need for congressional action. His opening remarks, as prepared for delivery:

As EPA prepares to release its final 2017 RFS volumes, we remind policymakers that the RFS is broken and must be repealed or significantly reformed.

The RFS mandate, created a decade ago to strengthen U.S. energy security and benefit American consumers, is doing neither. It was created in response to falling domestic energy production and rising crude imports – those circumstances no longer exist as a result of America’s energy renaissance. Because of the innovation of America's oil and natural gas industry, the U.S. is now leading the world in production of oil and natural gas and in the reduction of carbon emissions, which are near 20-year lows. This success is achieved through market-based solutions, not top-down mandates that pick winners and losers.

API C02 emissions fall

The market has shown that the RFS is outdated, and more and more Republicans and Democrats understand that the policy is broken and that there is a real opportunity for reform. We strongly support the Flores-Welch RFS reform bill, which has a wide range of bipartisan co-sponsors now at 117 members of the House.

As EPA considers how to implement this broken mandate, we urge them to act thoughtfully and cautiously. The well-being of the American consumer hangs in the balance as EPA continues to push more and more ethanol into the fuel mix. Studies have consistently shown the RFS could raise fuel costs, and consumers have weighed in. In fact, 75 percent of registered U.S. voters express concern about government requirements to increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline. This compelling testimony from the American consumer should guide our policy makers as they consider this important energy policy.

At a minimum, EPA should use its waiver authority under the RFS to adjust its 2017 ethanol mandate down from levels that were written into law by Congress nearly a decade ago. We are pleased that EPA has proposed to do so for the second consecutive year, and we hope they carry through with this and go further in the final rule. The agency must also ensure that an adequate supply of E0 is available for consumers who want it. Many small engine owners gearing up to use their leaf blowers and snow blowers this fall and winter prefer to use ethanol free gasoline.

The voices sounding off on the burdensome ethanol mandate are getting louder. From recreational boaters and motorcyclists to environmental groups and food groups, an ever-increasing number of Americans are urging policymakers to fix the broken RFS mandate.

The concern is that EPA will force more ethanol in the U.S. fuel supply than can be safely absorbed as E10 gasoline, the country’s standard fuel. Breaching the “blend wall” could force more E15 fuel into the marketplace – which studies have shown can potentially damage vehicle engines and fuel systems.

The RFS mandate also can impact corn prices, which then can impact the price of food and other goods and services. No one should be forced to pay more for their holiday meals or to deliver their Christmas presents because of a government energy policy that is broken.

Let me clear. We are not opposed to ethanol. We are opposed to the RFS mandate. We favor a level playing field where people compete for the fuels that consumers want. The RFS mandate is a hindrance to competitive fuels markets and must be fixed.  


Sabrina Fang is an API media relations representative. Before joining API she worked for the Washington Humane Society and was a reporter for Tribune Broadcasting and covered the White House for seven years. Fang studied broadcast journalism at Syracuse University before starting her career. She enjoys reading, watching movies and spending time with family.