API aims latest campaign to reform or repeal RFS directly at voters

The American Petroleum Institute launched a fresh advocacy campaign aimed at reforming or repealing the federal Renewable Fuels Standard. “Our campaign will focus on how higher ethanol mandates can hurt consumers, potentially raise costs, and possibly void automobile warranties,” API Downstream Group Director Frank Macchiarola said.

“We are urging policymakers to put the interest of the American consumer first,” he told reporters during an Aug. 9 teleconference. “The broken RFS mandate aims to force consumers to use high ethanol blends they don’t want and don’t need. Nearly 90% of vehicles on the road today were not designed for higher ethanol blends, such as E15. And many automakers say that using E15 could potentially void new car warranties.”

Ethanol levels should be set at no more than 97% of the national fuel supply in the near term to protect consumers while ensuring that ethanol-free gasoline remains available to those who want it, Macchiarola said.

“API has joined a chorus of voices sounding the alarm on the potential problems created by the burdensome ethanol mandate. From recreational boaters and motorcyclists to environmental groups and food groups, an ever-increasing number of Americans are saying ‘No More’ to the ethanol mandate,” he indicated.

There’s growing bipartisan agreement in Congress that the RFS program is a failure, the API official said. He noted that HR 5180, which Reps. Bill Flores (R-Tex.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and two other US House members introduced this spring (OGJ Online, May 12, 2016), now has more than 100 cosponsors.

Asked if he had studied the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers proposal to move the collection point for Renewable Identification Numbers, which are credits to help refiners and other obligated parties meet biofuels credits, farther downstream (OGJ Online, Aug. 5, 2016), Macchiarola said API strongly opposes the idea. “It’s an interim move that would solve nothing while introducing more complexity into the system by increasing the number of collection points,” he said.

Macchiarola also said that while API has contacted both major parties’ presidential campaigns about the issue, it believes it’s more effective to contact the public directly with an educational campaign and hope voters reach out to members of their congressional delegations with their concerns.

“A lot is said during political campaigns and a lot of policies are laid out that may not be workable in the long run,” he said. “Our approach is to provide the public with the best information about what is needed. It’s not targeting anyone specifically, simply informing the American consumer.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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