The US Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged that a “blend wall” has been reached for motor fuels with 10% ethanol as it released its proposed 2014 biofuel quotas under the federal Renewable Fuels Standard.
“Production of renewable fuels has been growing rapidly in recent years,” it said in its Nov. 15 announcement. “At the same time, advances in vehicle fuel economy and other economic factors have pushed gasoline consumption far lower than what was expected when Congress passed the [RFS] in 2007.
“As a result, we are now at the ‘E10 blend wall’, the point at which the E10 fuel pool is saturated with ethanol,” it continued. “If gasoline demand continues to decline, as currently forecast, continuing growth in the use of ethanol will require greater use of higher ethanol blends such as E15 and E85.”
Faced with these numbers, EPA decided, not actually to cut the quotas, but to suggest an increase in the lower half of the proposed range, presumably in an effort not to tick off the people who make money off ethanol. It did not work:
Brooke Coleman, the Advanced Ethanol Council’s executive director, noted: “While only a proposed rule at this point, this is the first time that the Obama administration has shown any sign of wavering when it comes to implementing the RFS. What we’re seeing is the oil industry taking one last run at trying to convince administrators of the RFS to relieve the legal obligation on them to blend more biofuel based on clever arguments meant to disguise the fact that oil companies just don’t want to blend more biofuel. The RFS is designed to bust the oil monopoly. It’s not going to be easy.”
Shorter Brooke Coleman: “It’s after Halloween, but dammit, we’re entitled to a permanent candy ration!”
Of course, I had to go hunt down a quote from Bob Dinneen, the addled head of the Renewable Fuels Association, and the one good thing about Dinneen is that he picks up his cues on time:
“We’re all just sort of scratching our heads here today and wondering why this administration is telling us to burn less of a clean-burning American fuel.”
Call me when you start pushing for natural gas, Bob. Not only is it right up there on the “clean” scale, but nobody actually eats it. Or maybe you could team up with Michael Jacobson of CSPI and build an engine that runs on Slurpees.