Cellulosic biofuel development lags

Cellulosic biofuel production well below Congress' target.

At the same time that U.S. crude oil is increasing and crude oil exports are down, gasoline prices are rising and the efforts to grow biofuels, such as E15, are under attack.

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, said the debate about E15 “should be one of consumer choice.”

“There is no requirement that gasoline marketers offer E15 and no mandate for consumers to buy it,” he said. “However, for those marketers that want to offer their customers a higher octane alternative to petroleum, E15 is a great option.”

As gasoline prices across the country continue to climb, Dinneen said it’s “threatening household budgets and economic recovery alike, ethanolcontinues to provide consumer savings at the pump.” Last week, when Dinneen made his comments,ethanol was priced about 80 cents below the wholesale costs of gasoline.

“Depending on the study you choose, the increased use of ethanol in 2011 saved consumers between $0.89 and $1.09,” Dinneen said. “Those savings would only be enhanced by the use of ethanol in higher blends.”

A different opinion was offered in a 2012 Congessional Budget Office report. The study found that it costs taxpayers $1.78 in subsidies for each gallon of gasoline that corn-based ethanol replaces.

Dinneen said to leave the market artificially constrained further limits market opportunities for next-generation biofuels very close to commercialization and is “missing an opportunity to meaningfully increase America’s use of renewable fuels and reduce our dependence on imported oil.”

According to EIA: “While liquid fuels and electricity are expected to be the primary products of this industry in the near term, many companies are developing technologies to produce intermediate chemicals from cellulosic biomass as well, including butanediol, polymers, succinic acid, paraxylene, and others. Over the medium to long term, these technologies have the potential to improve business.”



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