Ethanol Battle Continues

Environmental Protection Agency officials continue clashing with oil and natural gas industry leaders regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires ethanol to be blended into gasoline. Photo by Casey Junkins

WHEELING — Oil and natural gas industry leaders say requiring more ethanol in gasoline will cost motorists up to 26 cents more per gallon of fuel, but Environmental Protection Agency officials believe the practice will “measurably reduce carbon emissions.”

Signed into law by President George W. Bush as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 with the dual intent of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and diminishing the need for imported oil, the Renewable Fuel Standard established mandates for adding corn ethanol to gasoline. As EPA officials strive to increase the amount of ethanol included in gasoline, leaders of the Washington, D.C.-based American Petroleum Institute believe this is a negative for consumers.

“We are disappointed that EPA has taken a step backwards with this final rule,” API Downstream Group Director Frank Macchiarola said.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard mandate is a bad deal for the American consumer.”

According to the Congressional Budget Office consumers could pay up to 26 cents more per gallon at the pump, if EPA increases the ethanol mandate to more than 10 percent.

“Democrats and Republicans agree this program is a failure,” Macchiarola asserted.

The Obama administration’s EPA has worked to reduce fossil fuel burning with measures such as the Clean Power Plan, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and the new methane regulations for the oil and natural gas industry. However, the administration continues encouraging the increased usage of ethanol, which pleases those who grow the corn.

“This is critical for farmers facing difficult economic times, as well as for consumers who care about clean air, affordable fuel choices, and lowering our dependence on foreign oil,” National Corn Growers Association President Wesley Spurlock said. “The Renewable Fuel Standard has been one of America’s great policy success stories. It has improved our energy independence, our air quality, and our rural economies.”

Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol, also hailed the move to increase the amount required for gasoline.

“As more ethanol was blended with record-high consumption of gasoline this year, the American Coalition for Ethanol  urged EPA to increase the 2017 implied conventional biofuel volume to the statutory level of 15 billion gallons — and we are very pleased EPA has agreed to do so.”