For the first time in several years, the EPA has published the ethanol blending quotas for next year in accordance with the schedule set in the law, EISA 2007. The EPA Final Renewable Fuel Standards for 2017 can be found here at the EPA website.
Suffice it to say, the upbeat tone of the announcement masks the serious problems with mandating ethanol blending into the nation’s gas supply. There are many ironies in this announcement, but to give you a little insight into the absurdity that abounds, I’ll present just one fact. EISA 2007 mandated that the amount of renewable fuels that must be blended into our fuel supply in 2017 shall be 24.0 billion gallons, yet this announcement specifies that only 19.28 billion gallons shall be blended. If you want more information about this divergence, you might peruse this article in the Ethanol Producer Magazine. Be warned, there is a pile of gobbledygook in the article.
There are a couple of interesting sidelights in the Renewable Fuel Standards. Number one: we are essentially at the blending wall. In order to blend more ethanol into our gasoline, it will have to be E15 or higher. Number two: we have finally reached the corn ethanol ceiling of 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol. Or course, we’re a couple of years late according to the Act. All increases in renewable fuel for auto gasoline must now be made up by “advanced ethanol,” and there isn’t much of that around because it can’t be made by any known commercially viable process. All of this is monumentally ironic since EISA 2007 is not a mandatory E10 law and E10 is nowhere defined as “renewable fuel” in the Act.
The result of this announcement is: the availability of ethanol free unleaded auto gas (E0) may be coming to an end. According to this article in Hemmings Daily, the days of ethanol free auto fuel are numbered. The EPA wanted to do away with it in 2017, but that doesn’t look likely. If you don’t want to take the time to read the article, here is the pertinent quote: “Despite worries that the Environmental Protection Agency would put an end to ethanol-free gasoline sales with its Renewable Fuels Standard ruling for 2017, the agency permitted E0 a reprieve at the same time it declared its intention to transition the entire nation’s fuel supply to E10 and above.“
So we’ve been warned. (Actually, there are some scarier statements by the EPA in that article about what is coming.)
Wonder if the new administration which claims to be more attuned to unleashing free enterprise will recognize the largest federally mandated market manipulation program in history for what it is, corporate socialism, and repeal EISA 2017. One can always hope.
12/8/2016: Whoa there. Maybe more than hope. Team Trump is proposing Scott Pruitt, AG of Oklahoma, waterboy for big oil as head of EPA. Yes, that Scott Pruitt “… who filed a friend of the court brief in a lawsuit against EPA over the RFS, arguing that using corn for ethanol increased food prices, and that the biofuel posed a risk to automobile engines. “The evidence is clear that the current ethanol fuel mandate is unworkable,” Pruitt said.”