AAA joins club calling for lower 2014 targets

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The nation’s largest motor club is urging the Obama administration to consider immediately lowering corn ethanol targets for next year.

In a statement today, AAA said lowering the corn ethanol requirement for next year to below 10 percent of the nation’s gasoline supply would prevent a possible spike in gas prices and alleviate concerns the motor club said it had about cars filling up with gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol, or E15.

“It is just not possible to blend the amount of ethanol required by current law given recent declines in fuel consumption, and it is time for public policy to acknowledge this reality,” AAA President and CEO Bob Darbelnet said.

U.S. EPA is expected to release its proposed 2014 targets for renewable fuels, advanced biofuels, biodiesel and cellulosic biofuel any day now; a proposal is currently at the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.

AAA jumped into the debate over ethanol about a year ago when it publicly stated that it had concerns about E15, which entered the marketplace last year after EPA issued final approval of its use in cars with model years 2001 and newer. The motor club said it found that auto manufacturers had approved only 12 million out of the 240 million cars on the road today to use E15.

Darbelnet today said he was cheered by a recent EPA draft proposal that showed the agency was considering using its authority to significantly lower the corn ethanol portion of the mandate to 13 billion gallons for 2014 from the 14.4 billion gallons laid out in the 2007 Energy Security and Independence Act. The agency would require a total of 15.21 billion gallons of all renewable fuels, down from the 18.15 billion in the statute.

“There is a real opportunity to put motorists first in what has been a very contentious disagreement between various industries,” Darbelnet added. “Gas and car maintenance costs are high enough as it is, and it would be a relief to know that the [renewable fuel standard] will not cause significant problems for consumers next year.”

Ethanol groups have been critical of the auto club’s position and have accused it of being a shill for the oil industry, which has called for the repeal of the renewable fuel standard and said the draft EPA proposal would not go far enough (E&ENews PM, Oct. 24).

“AAA needs to stop being the puppet of Big Oil and put consumers first,” Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, said today.

A National Renewable Energy Laboratory study earlier this month dismissed concerns about E15’s effect on car engines and fuel systems, finding that industry-funded studies warning of possible damage were flawed (Greenwire, Oct. 11).