Fuels united will never be defeated

Source: By Kelsey Tamborrino, Politico • Posted: Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Will Gang Grain and the oil industry link arms against a common foe? The Fuels Institute and an automakers group made presentations Friday to a broad swath of ethanol and oil interests, as well as staff for Sens. Chuck GrassleyJim InhofeMitch McConnellJohn CornynJoni Ernst and Deb Fischer and representatives from the American Petroleum Institute and the Renewable Fuels Association, according to a Republican congressional aide. The meeting was organized by Cornyn, and focused on the possibility of setting a national octane standard to 95, well above than the typical unleaded fuel of 87 or 88 octane.

As ME followers are keenly aware , these groups have been battling over the Renewable Fuel Standard for years, but this meeting was not directly about that program. Instead it focused on octane as a possible common ground: Automakers are looking at high compression engines that burn high octane fuels as the best way to meet higher mileage standards. Ethanol producers believe they have the best source of octane on the market (though they want to raise octane levels even higher than 95). “The common threat – EVs – was identified and all the stakeholders are individually assessing what the areas of compromise are among them to address it,” an oil industry source who attended the meeting told ME. “I think it fair to say that the refiners and autos were quicker to see this than the ethanol folks, but the latter now get it and seem to be genuinely interested in talking a national octane standard. This by itself is some progress.”

How about a bill? A different Republican aide told Pro’s Anthony Adragna and Eric Wolff on Friday that there was talk at the meeting of pushing a bill this Congress. John Eichberger, executive director of the nonprofit Fuels Institute, said his group does not do advocacy and did not push for any legislation. He told ME he presented some early data from a research project whose results will be out in June. “What is absolutely clear is it will take many years before electric vehicles become a substantial part of the transportation system, and in that time frame improving the efficiency of internal combustion engines is in the best interest of consumers,” he told ME in an email.