Update: House subcommittee to envision fuels of the future at hearing today

Source: By Ernie Shea, AAE; Maxine Joselow, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, April 9, 2018

The following is a Background Memo on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce/Subcommittee on Environment’s hearing on “High Octane Fuels and High Efficiency Vehicles: Challenges and Opportunities.” The hearing begins at 9:00 a.m. this Friday and the hearing webcast will be available at http://energycommerce.house.gov/.

Witnesses include:

–          Chet Thompson, President, American Fuel and Petrochemicals Manufacturers;

–          Dan Nicholson, Vice President, Global Propulsion Systems, General Motors, on behalf of the United States Council for Automotive Research;

–          Tim Columbus, General Counsel, Society of Gasoline Marketers of America and National Association of Convenience Stores;

–          Paul Jeschke, Chairman, Illinois Corn Growers Association; and

–          Emily Skor, CEO, Growth Energy

The following issues may be examined at the hearing:

  • The potential for high octane fuels and vehicles designed for them to further the goals of the RFS and CAFE/GHG programs.
    The impacts of a transition to high octane fuels and vehicles on refiners, biofuel producers, automakers, and fuel retailers.
  • The impacts of a transition to high octane fuels and vehicles on consumers.
  • The legal and regulatory steps necessary to bring about a transition to high octane fuels and vehicles.

The closing paragraph in the Majority Staff briefing memo should be of particular interest to AAE members:

“Nonetheless, given the growing challenges posed by the RFS and CAFE/GHG programs in the years ahead, it seems as though high octane fuels and vehicles may be an economical and technologically feasible path forward for producers and sellers of fuels and vehicles as well as the consumers who use them. The high octane option raises a number of as-yet-unanswered questions, but certainly warrants serious consideration.”


A House committee today will examine the challenges and opportunities presented by new vehicles and new fuels.

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment will delve into issues including high-octane fuel, hybrid engines and autonomous cars.

In particular, lawmakers will study how a transition to high-octane fuels would impact a variety of interests, including refiners, biofuel producers, automakers, fuel retailers and consumers.

“High octane fuels have the potential to allow for the greater use of ethanol and other octane enhancers in the gasoline supply while increasing the miles per gallon in new cars,” Chairman John Shimkus (R-Ill.) said in a statement.

The subcommittee’s previous hearing on the subject featured familiar partisan arguments: Democrats advocated for lower emissions, while Republicans called for cheaper cars (E&E Daily, March 8).

This hearing is likely to feature further debate on the Trump administration’s proposed revision of two key policies: U.S. EPA’s greenhouse gas rules for cars and the renewable fuel standard.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt last week formally declared the clean car rules for model years 2022 to 2025 “inappropriate” and said they should be revised (E&E News PM, April 2).

EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will continue to hammer out a proposal for new standards in the coming months.

Schedule: The hearing is Friday, April 13, at 9 a.m. in 2123 Rayburn.