EPA poised to finalize RFS quotas as API releases new survey results

Growing numbers of US voters are concerned about possible adverse impacts as the US Environmental Protection Agency prepares to issue new ethanol quotas under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, the American Petroleum Institute said.

It cited a Harris Poll telephone survey it commissioned of 1,021 registered voters nationwide Nov. 5-8 in which 78% said they were concerned that new ethanol quotas could breach the so-called blend wall, the point at which the mandate exceeds the level of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply.

By party, API said that concern was expressed by 91% of respondents identified themselves as Republicans, 80% of independents, and 73% of Democrats.

“The results are telling,” API Downstream Group Director Bob Greco told reporters in a Nov. 19 teleconference. “Across the political spectrum, voters are concerned about the significant damage the RFS-mandated higher ethanol blends could cause to automobiles, motorcycles, and almost every type of gasoline powered engine.

“The public gets it,” Greco said. “Regardless of their party affiliation, voters are concerned with mandates that try to force too much ethanol into our fuel supply.”

Greco said the survey’s results will be brought up when several of API’s refining members visit the White House Office of Management and Budget Nov. 20 to discuss their concerns over possibly higher ethanol quotas. “They’ll use this poll to remind the administration that voters are concerned,” he said.

In the survey, 78% of the respondents also expressed concern that automakers have said they will not warranty their vehicles if the car’s owner uses fuel with a more than 10% ethanol blend. Seventy-seven percent said they were concerned that diverting more corn to energy production could result in higher food costs and contribute to world hunger.

“We would not be surprised if the rule came out next week, and will operate under that assumption,” Greco said. “EPA continues to insist it will be out by Nov. 30 despite the Thanksgiving holiday and Paris climate talks. We’ve heard from EPA that there’s interest in bumping the mandate up and testing the blend wall. We think that’s a bad idea.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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