API urges EPA administrator to quit delaying ethanol mandates

The American Petroleum Institute urged the US Environmental Protection Agency to quit dragging its feet and issue final 2014 ethanol blending quotas that are months overdue.

“The continuing delays are unacceptable, fundamentally unfair, and show a continued disregard for congressionally mandated deadlines,” API Downstream and Industry Operations Group Director Bob Greco said in a June 18 letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

“Almost half of 2014 is behind us, yet EPA still hasn’t finalized the ethanol requirements for this year,” Greco separately told reporters. “The administration’s inability to meet the congressionally mandated deadline of Nov. 30 is a clear example of how unworkable the [federal Renewable Fuels Standard] is.”

API also is concerned that EPA might raise quotas in its 2014 proposal based on reasoning that E85—a blend of 85% ethanol with 15% gasoline—is a workable solution, he said during a June 18 teleconference.

“It is not,” Greco said. “Only 6% of the current vehicle fleet can even use [the E85 blend]. But even those motorists have largely rejected the fuel because ethanol is less energy-dense than gasoline. That means lower miles per gallon—a tank of E85 won’t get you as far. And it means more money out of your wallet. According to AAA, E85 costs consumers more when accounting for lost fuel economy.”

His remarks came as the Fuels America coalition said data from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association’s weekly comparison of prices in 18 states for E85 and gasoline with a 10% ethanol blend show drivers could have saved as much as 55¢/gal at the pump the past year by using E85.

Greco said the Obama administration’s continued delays in finalizing renewal fuel mandates each year shows that Congress needs to repeal the RFS outright. “We have 218 members of the House behind us, which is more than half and includes both Democrats and Republicans,” he told reporters. “This is strong bipartisan support. We expect the pressure to grow. It’s an election year, which makes it difficult, but we don’t think it’s impossible.”

RFS’s intent was good, but it needs to be reformed, a US House member said a day earlier during the Canadian American Business Council’s North America: Fueling the Future conference at the Canadian Embassy. “What we lack is the ability to adjust to changing situations,” Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY) said. “It’s something that needs to be revisited.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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