Today, U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), lead Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, made the following statement regarding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed 2014 Renewable Fuel Volumetric Obligations for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). EPA's proposal recognizes the current mandates exceed the problematic "blendwall," the limit at which ethanol may be safely blended into the Nation's gasoline supply. Hitting the blendwall would lead to both an increase in food and fuel prices.
"Despite the Agency's best efforts to ignore the problems associated with the RFS, with this action the EPA admits that the program is irretrievably broken," said Vitter. "It is progress for the EPA to finally recognize and attempt to address the "blendwall' by slightly reducing next year's mandates, but let's not get ahead of ourselves: the RFS remains a fundamentally flawed program that limps along year after year, wreaking havoc on those required to participate, including the American consumer. The Administration needs to quit slapping unrealistic mandates on everything and start doing what's right for our slumping economy."
Under the RFS four separate standards must be satisfied: Advanced biofuel, cellulosic biofuel, biomass based diesel, and total renewable fuel, meaning corn based ethanol. For 2013, EPA mandated the use of approximately 13.8 billion gallons of corn based ethanol. That figure was set to increase under the RFS statutory requirements to 14.4 billion gallons in 2014. For 2014, the overall renewable fuel volume was going to increase to 18.15 billion gallons including 3.75 billion for advanced biofuels. At 10 percent of gasoline demand the blendwall occurs at about 13 billion gallons even as the ethanol mandate rises from 13.8 to 14.4 for 2014. Today EPA announced the volume be set at 15.21 billion gallons for 2014 (13 billion for corn based ethanol), which is a reduction of almost 3 billion gallons from the statutory requirement (around 1 billion for corn based ethanol from the statutory requirement).
Previous attempts by the EPA to address various problems created by the RFS have failed, including E15, which was approved for use through partial waivers, then found to damage vehicle, boat, motorcycle, and small engines including lawnmowers.
Vitter has been closely watching the Administration's announcements and decisions on the annual volume mandates, and recently asked the Administration to waive the 2014 volumes to remain below the 10 percent ethanol "blendwall" while Congress examines long-term policy solutions for the outdated and increasingly burdensome RFS. Click here to read more.