Survey shows continued voter concern about ethanol mandates, API says

Sixty-eight percent of registered US voters are concerned about the federal government increasing the amount of ethanol allowed in gasoline, a survey commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute found.

Sixty-eight percent of registered US voters are concerned about the federal government increasing the amount of ethanol allowed in gasoline, a survey commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute found.

Seventy-four percent of the 1,000 registered voters who participated in the Mar. 24-27 telephone survey by Harris Poll agreed that federal regulations could contribute to increased costs at the pump, API said.

“Seventy percent also think that the use of more corn for ethanol could increase food prices,” API Downstream Group Director Frank Macchiarola told reporters in a teleconference as the survey and its results were released.

“As we have stated before, the broken [renewable fuel standard] mandate aims to force consumers to use high-ethanol blends they don’t want and don’t need,” he said, adding that the latest survey shows that Americas remains concerned about increasing mandates for more ethanol under the federal RFS.

Macchiarola said the survey also showed that:

• Seventy percent of voters think the use of more corn for ethanol could increase food prices.

• Fifty-nine percent of voters oppose moving the point of obligation to shift the program’s compliance burden, while only 20% support such a change. The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers has said that such a move would provide some interim relief while the 115th Congress considers comprehensive RFS reforms. The National Association of Convenience Stores opposes it.

• Seventy-five percent of voters are concerned about government requirements that could breach the blend wall, the point where amounts of ethanol needed to meet quotas exceed available supplies. The Renewable Fuels Association and other groups advocating the use of more ethanol in gasoline have dismissed it as a myth, but the US Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged its existence as it released its proposed 2014 biofuel quotas (OGJ Online, Nov. 15, 2013).

Macchiarola said nearly 85% of vehicles now on US highways were not designed for higher ethanol blends, such as gasoline that is 15% ethanol. “Many automakers say that using E15 could potentially void new car warranties. Higher ethanol blends threaten engines and fuel systems—potentially forcing drivers to pay for costly repairs, according to industry testing. And the public remains uneasy about that,” he said.

“There is bipartisan agreement that the RFS is a failure. We continue to urge Congress to pass legislation to fix the program, but until there is a fix, EPA should provide relief from the unreasonable statutory mandate,” Macchiarola stated.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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