Oil and Biofuels Lobby White House on Renewable Fuel Standard Ahead of Nov. 30 Deadline

Source: By Jessie Stolark, EESI • Posted: Monday, November 23, 2015

In the lead-up to the administration’s release of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), it’s been a veritable who’s who of renewable fuels and petrochemical refiners visiting the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  Each side is lobbying for an adjustment of the finalized renewable fuel volumes that are blended into the transportation fuel supply for 2014, 2015, and 2016. While EPA announced the proposed volumes back in May, EPA accepted additional public comment on the proposed volumes, and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) also has the authority to re-jigger the final fuel volumes. For these reasons, the final announcement is likely to be a bit different than the proposed volumes that EPA announced in May.

If you need an RFS refresher, EESI wrote about the EPA’s proposed volumes this spring.

The volumes for 2014 and 2015 will be set at or near actual renewable fuels production.  Most of the attention is focused on the volume that EPA sets for 2016. And according to the ethanol industry, the final 2016 volumes themselves aren’t as important as the methodology the EPA used to reach these volumes. In the proposed volumes announced in May, EPA set 2016 volumes for total renewable fuels at 9.63 percent of the total transportation supply.  According to the biofuels industry, capping volumes at less than 10 percent is a signal to industry and investors that there is limited market opportunity in the United States.

The ‘blend wall’ is the point at which changes to gasoline infrastructure will be needed to utilize higher volumes of biofuels, commonly accepted as 10 percent, or E10.  While the numbers may be given some breathing room by rising gasoline use, the final volumes may still be capped at under 10 percent of total fuel volume.  The tug-of-war currently playing out at OMB is over this blend wall.  The oil industry is using its own version of pocketbook politics to claim that breaching the ‘blend wall’ will be damaging to engines and ultimately cost consumers.  This is despite both EPA and DOE’s certification of E15 blends being safe for use in cars from 2001 and newer. Utilization of E15 would easily breach the ‘blend wall,’ enabling approximately 7.1 billion additional gallons of ethanol to be blended each year, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.

The biofuels industry is now calling on the administration to reconsider the RFS before the final volumes announcement, particularly ahead of global climate talks in Paris this December. According to a recent ad from Fuels America, a coalition of biofuels producers, they are asking President Obama to “get America’s most successful climate policy back on track.”

For more information see: 

RFA, Growth Energy meet with OMB, advocate for RFS to be upheld, Governors’ Biofuels Coalition

Oil, Biofuels Industries Making Final RFS Appeals to White House, Platts