Ethanol mandate being challenged by energy industry

Washington Examiner:
The oil and ethanol industries showed Tuesday that they are eager to renew hostilities with each other over the Environmental Protection Agency’s renewable fuel program and ethanol mandate, no matter that the government is closed.

American Petroleum Institute CEO Mike Sommers kicked things off while presenting the first State of American Energy report he's published as head of the oil and natural gas industry's lead trade group. In the recommendations for the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard, the report called for sunsetting the ethanol mandate.

For the oil industry, it is simple: The program, which mandates that they blend billions of gallons of corn ethanol in gasoline and costs them billions of dollars, is “outdated and broken,” while placing consumers at risk. Therefore, the program should be either killed off or "significantly overhauled,” the report said.

The mandate has been a point of contention between the industries, lawmakers, and even President Trump, who failed to broker a deal between the industries on cutting the cost of complying with the federal program. The program requires most oil refiners to purchase hundreds of millions of dollars in ethanol credits to meet the program's requirements each year.

The oil industry also is opposing Trump's plan to allow higher concentrations of ethanol to be blended in gasoline year-round, which the oil industry says will harm car engines.

The group claims that the oil industry's success has made the ethanol mandate "obsolete." The U.S. is now the largest oil and natural gas producer, which has made it far less reliant on foreign oil producers than when the EPA ethanol program was passed into law over a decade ago.

The oil industry's negative view of the ethanol mandate isn't news to the ethanol industry. But the continued antagonism does show that continuing fighting over the Renewable Fuel Standard isn't going away any time soon.

Geoff Cooper, the head of the ethanol industry’s top trade group, the Renewable Fuels Association, vowed to “continue to fight” for the choice the ethanol industry brings to the consumer at the pump.
It is false to claim that the ethanol industry brings choice to the consumer at the pump.  If consumers had a choice there would be no need for a mandate.  If the product really added value they would not need a mandate.  If I were given a choice, I would never buy fuel with ethanol in it.  It has cost me hundreds of dollars to repair small engines it screws up.  Repair centers are clogged with equipment that has been made inoperable by ethanol, from chainsaws to outboard motors and other yard equipment.  It is a bad deal for consumers.

Ethanol has also become counterproductive for its original purpose of reducing the reliance on foreign oil.  Because refiners have to waste money on the mandate, it makes it more difficult to switch their operations to refining the light crude being produced in abundance in US oil fields.  The result has been continued reliance on imported heavy crude.

Ethanol has become a boondoggle for the agribusiness lobby.


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