FULL SPEED AHEAD INTO THE BLENDING WALL!
On Friday, November 16, 2012, the EPA denied the waiver petition made by several states to drop mandatory ethanol blending as required by EISA 2007 for one year. You can find the denial as quoted here, “Based on the entire record before it, EPA has determined that each of the petitions and requests should be denied.” in the EPA document.
This is what the waiver denial portends. Even with the carry forward RINS, which are delaying the blending wall by maybe 20 billion gallons of E10 / year, by 2014, at the latest, the ethanol quota, cast in stone table, in EISA 2007 will swamp the gasoline pool and there will be nowhere to put the ever increasing ethanol quotas after that and the ludicrous E15 waiver will not delay this fact.
It was clear that the quota table in EISA 2007 was designed to produce Renewable Fuel, which is only defined as E85 in the act. OK, in one place in the act it is defined as E11 – E85, but it is NEVER defined as E10. However, we produce a minuscule amount of E85 and that will not increase enough in the next few years to avoid the blending wall because of the massive infrastructure that would be demanded to distribute and sell it. The fact that all of the gasoline in the U.S. is becoming E10 is an unintended consequence of EISA 2007 since E10 is NOT Renewable Fuel as defined by the act.
So here is a suggestion for the states that were denied the waiver. Any state can prohibit the blending of ethanol in all of the gasoline in their state, except for those few mandatory oxygenate areas that are still left, which are a few big urban areas and most of Southern California. There is no mandatory federal E10 law. EISA 2007 certainly isn’t a mandatory E10 law, it is a Renewable Fuel law, and E10 is NOT Renewable Fuel as defined in the act. So if a state can pass a mandatory E10 law, like my home state of Oregon did, useless as it is now, any state can clearly pass a law prohibiting E10 being sold in the state. This would certainly accelerate hitting the blending wall thus exposing what a farce and sham the federal Renewable Fuel Standard really is.
Of course until such time as the congress critters repeal the federal RFS in EISA 2007, which they might do if they finally wake up and understand that it can’t possibly fulfill its intended purpose, the gasoline producers will have to deal with ever increasing quotas of ethanol with nowhere to blend it. If the EPA is as obstinate as it is now with the cellulosic ethanol quotas that the gasoline producers must pay waiver penalties for a product they can’t buy, then the gasoline producers will have to do something with the ethanol they can’t blend. I have a suggestion. Start constructing large tank farms in Illinois, as near to ADM headquarters as possible, and the Iowa home of Senator Chuck Grassley, the champion of the RFS and the water boy for ADM. Just store the billions of gallons of ethanol in their back yards, by 2022 you are going to have to be able to store about 15 billion gallons of the stuff every year that you can’t use. You can just pass along the costs to us consumers just as you do with the millions of dollars in penalties for the cellulosic ethanol waiver credits. I’m sure we won’t mind, because we certainly don’t mind that you must pay for a product you can’t even buy, and you are passing along the costs to us right now.
Oh, and by the way, the whole EPA waiver review was a complete farce. Look on page 79 of the Notice, “The commenter failed to acknowledge that EPA is not required to issue a waiver when severe economic harm to a state, region or the United States is demonstrated. The statute provides that EPA “may” do so in that situation.” Bazinga! There was never the remotest chance in Hell that the EPA was going to grant the waiver. I hope the states wake up and take matters into their own hands. They have every opportunity to as outlined above, just ban E10 in your state.