RFA’s 2018 Biofuel Priorities to Help ‘Make America Great Again’

Source: By Bob Dinneen, Ethanol Producer Magazine • Posted: Tuesday, January 23, 2018

It’s been a year since President Donald Trump took office and I can safely say it’s been anything but boring, both here in Washington, D.C., and around the country. The old playbook on how things got done was tossed in the trash and new guidelines were launched, cutting red tape and helping to make America great again. This new era of getting our country back on track has and will continue to extend into the biofuels industry, making sure we are providing the cleanest, lowest-cost and highest-octane fuels at the pump. To that end, here are a few of the Renewable Fuels Association’s priorities for the new year, to ensure biofuels help make America great again.

• E15 RVP parity: The RFA’s top goal for the year is ensuring consumers have year-round access to E15. Due to an outdated EPA regulation, retail gasoline stations are essentially prohibited from selling E15 in more than two-thirds of the nation’s gasoline market during the summer ozone control season, from June 1 to Sept. 15. EPA’s nonsensical and disparate Reid vapor pressure regulation of allowing E10 but not E15 and higher ethanol blends during the summer months offers no consumer or environmental benefit whatsoever. EPA currently has the authority to extend the RVP waiver to E15, but our champions on Capitol Hill have also introduced legislation to ensure consumers have access to E15, regardless of the time of year. Whether through legislative or administrative action, cutting through needless regulation by obtaining RVP parity remains our top goal.

• Ensuring a strong RFS: The single most effective clean energy policy in this country has been the Renewable Fuel Standard, helping to clean the air, boost local economies and increase energy independence. Trump is one of our nation’s best advocates for American energy, and there is nothing more American than producing a homegrown fuel that is less expensive, cleaner and better for the environment than ethanol. Trump’s EPA finalized a strong 2018 RFS in November, maintaining the statutory 15 billion-gallon requirement for conventional renewable fuels like corn ethanol. I anticipate the 2019 RFS rule will continue to be a strong statement to American agriculture and consumers across this country, helping to break up Big Oil’s near-monopoly at the pump and make us more energy-secure.

• Promotion of high-octane fuels: Demand for higher-octane gasoline is growing, as EPA continues work on light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas standards and automakers introduce more vehicles that require or recommend the use of premium fuel. A high-octane, mid-level ethanol blend—E20 to E40—can deliver the same, or better, fuel economy as regular gasoline when paired with an optimized engine, but with less energy expended per mile and far fewer emissions. RFA will be working to make sure EPA and automakers recognize the significant role high-octane ethanol blends can play in meeting clean-air and fuel economy-related regulations.

• Growing exports: As the world’s lowest-cost producer, the U.S. continues to be the international market’s most reliable and affordable source of high-octane ethanol. However, in the past year, there have been nonsensical tariff and nontariff barriers to trade, such as those imposed by China and Brazil, which ultimately end up harming consumers in those countries. Trump’s administration knows the value of American agriculture and homegrown fuels, and will continue working to ensure free and fair trade for ethanol around the globe.

• Increasing the number of stations offering higher ethanol blends: At the end of 2017, there were more than 4,000 retail stations offering E85 and other higher ethanol blends, as well as 1,215 stations across 29 states selling E15. Thanks to the Blend Your Own Ethanol Campaign, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership Program, and the ethanol industry-funded Prime the Pump initiative, retailers helped provide greater choice at the pump. The RFA will continue to push for greater consumer access to higher ethanol blends such as E15 and E85.

While I expect this year to be just as unpredictable as 2017, I remain confident that Trump’s support for our industry remains steadfast and look forward to working to ensure consumers here and abroad have access to the cleanest, lowest-cost ethanol in the world.

Bob Dinneen is President and CEO, Renewable Fuels Association