EPA finalizes renewable fuels standard

Aug. 27, 2013
Senators seek investigation of oil company efforts to block renewable fuels.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released the final regulation for the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) that dictates how much of the fuel supply made available must consist of different ethanol blends and types of ethanol-based fuels, according to the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA). The RFS came into the spotlight in recent years when concerns over the ability for fuel companies to provide the required amounts of different ethanol fuels came into question.

The final RFS rule requires 16.55 billion gallons of renewable fuels be included in the national fuel supply for 2013. Those fuels are to be standard gasoline with 15 percent or higher ethanol blend, cellulosic ethanol blends and others that are different than the current 10 percent ethanol commonly available to automobile drivers. Initial concerns from gasoline companies were based on the availability of corn to make ethanol and the absence of technology available to make cellulosic ethanol fuel blends.

While the EPA was issuing this new standard, U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking them to investigate the oil companies for employing tactics to block these different ethanol blends, or renewable fuels, into the marketplace. The senators allege that oil companies are requiring their franchise gas station owners to stock premium fuels rather than allowing for renewable fuel capacity at their stores. If that is true, then the costs of adding renewable fuel pumps and storing those fuels would come from the station owners’ own pockets.

It is unclear whether the FTC or perhaps Department of Justice will investigate possible oil company interference at this time. However, it is expected that for 2014, EPA will decrease the RFS requirement because the decrease in gasoline sales makes it unsafe for oil companies to meet higher blend percentages.

The full RFS rule for the required 2013 blend can be found at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-08-15/pdf/2013-19557.pdf

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