Bill would reform RFS to boost high-octane fuels

Source: By Maxine Joselow, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Two House Republicans have introduced legislation to reform the renewable fuel standard and boost the role of high-octane fuels.

The “21st Century Transportation Fuels Act,” from Reps. Bill Flores (R-Texas) and John Shimkus (R-Ill.), would require that all new cars and trucks be designed to run on high-octane fuels.

The requirement would take effect starting in model year 2023, according to a copy of the bill provided to E&E News.

High-octane fuels are those that can withstand more compression before igniting. They enjoy broad support from the biofuels lobby, as ethanol is one of the cleanest and cheapest sources of octane available.

“Much has changed in the markets for vehicles and fuels since the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was established in 2005,” Flores said last year when introducing a discussion draft of the legislation.

“Since ethanol is one of the lowest-cost sources of octane in many areas of the country, a transition from the RFS beginning in 2023 to a national octane specification creates new market opportunities for biofuel producers and gives certainty to refining stakeholders,” he said.

Shimkus, the top Republican on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, said his goal “was to look beyond just the renewable fuel standard to comprehensively reshape federal transportation fuel policies in a way that could provide more value to consumers and more certainty to industry stakeholders.”

At an E&C hearing in April, a proposed federal high-octane fuel standard received support from a range of witnesses, including representatives from General Motors Co. and the Illinois Corn Growers Association.

But Chet Thompson, president and CEO of American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, told lawmakers at the hearing that such a standard “could only be done in lieu of — not in addition to — the RFS” (Greenwire, April 13, 2018).

Both Flores and Shimkus have announced they will not seek reelection in 2020, joining an exodus of House Republicans that includes climate hawk Francis Rooney of Florida (E&E Daily, Oct. 21).