The EPA finalizes its 2013 biofuel blending requirements, and only eight months late

posted at 2:41 pm on August 16, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

The relentless saga of stupid that is the Renewable Fuel Standard rages on.

To review: Back in 2005, followed by an expansion of the law in 2007, Congress deemed that it would be a good idea if fuel refiners were required to gradually begin blending various biofuels into the nation’s gasoline supply, eventually amounting to a total 36 billion gallons of biofuels annually by the year 2022. It was and is painfully apparent that this so-called “Renewable” Fuel Standard is nothing more than the federal government’s cronyish love letter to the corn-turned-ethanol lobby, and it has all too predictably turned out that biofuels are not the environmentally friendly, affordable stabilizer we were once promised they would be — and they jack up food and gasoline prices and are harder on car engines than purer gasoline to boot.

Lawmakers assured the Little People that they obviously knew best at the time, and the esteemed bureaucrats at the EPA evidently continue to do so — but declining gasoline consumption in the United States combined the scheduled targeted increases in biofuels blending required by the RFS means that refiners are being driven up against what is referred to as the “blend wall.” Automakers will not warranty engines to use anything that goes past a 10 percent ethanol blend. Companies can purchase ethanol credits known as RINs if they don’t meet the RFS, but RIN prices have lately been spiking with companies’ increased demand for the credits (in turn passing on the heightened costs to consumers), and energy and automobile companies have recently been trying to get the EPA to back off on their clearly overly optimistic requirements.

The EPA’s response to this boondoggle can be summarized thusly: Shut. Up.

As part of an ongoing effort to enhance energy security and reduce carbon pollution, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today finalized the 2013 percentage standards for four fuel categories that are part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program established by Congress. Most of these fuels are produced by American farmers and growers domestically and help reduce the carbon pollution that contributes to climate change.

The final 2013 overall volumes and standards require 16.55 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be blended into the U.S. fuel supply (a 9.74 percent blend). This standard specifically requires:

-Biomass-based diesel (1.28 billion gallons; 1.13 percent)
-Advanced biofuels (2.75 billion gallons; 1.62 percent)
-Cellulosic biofuels (6.00 million gallons; 0.004 percent)

These standards reflect EPA’s updated production projections, which are informed by extensive engagement with industry and a thorough assessment of the biofuels market.

Except, remember that one time — last year — when your projections weren’t informed? Like, at all? And you tried to actually penalize companies for failing to comply with one aspect of the Standard for cellulosic biofuels that didn’t actually exist? Gee, that was fun. (I might also add that the “energy security” goals originally alluded to in the law have already been surpassed by innovations in the energy industry — cough, fracking — and that plenty of research suggests that ethanol is actually worsening carbon pollution on net balance. But I digress.)

The EPA also promised that they would be employing “flexibilities” in the law to reduce the amount of biofuels required in next year’s rule, when the industry estimates they’ll run up against the blend wall — basically putting off really addressing the underlying problem until next year. Oddly, the industry is not assured by this promise.

The petroleum industry formally asked the Obama administration on Tuesday to lower the amount of corn-based ethanol refiners must blend into transportation fuel in 2014.

Failing to adjust the Renewable Fuel Standard’s blending targets could result in “severe harm to the U.S. economy” resulting from higher gasoline prices, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) said in comments regarding a request for a waiver from the rule.

The groups’ claim of economic damage relied on an API-commissioned NERA Economic Consulting study that said leaving the fuel mandate intact could raise diesel costs 300 percent and gasoline costs 30 percent in 2015.

There are several ideas circulating around Congress to reduce or eliminate the Renewable Fuel Standard, but I don’t know how hopeful I am about them. Even Republicans like Sen. Chuck Grassley (oof) seem to be able to invent reasons why their normal free-market principles don’t apply and that subsidies are somehow a good idea when applied to the ethanol industry. Those Iowa corn-farmer associations will not be denied, you know.


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All industries in which the government participates become warped and unsustainable.

unclesmrgol on August 16, 2013 at 2:45 PM

Time’s already past to JUST SAY NO!

Illegitimate government
Illegitimate laws
Illegitimate president
Illegitimate regulations
Illegitimate regime

The states are gonna have to SAY NO to this illegitimate bunch of fascist thugs now, or it’s over.

Harbingeing on August 16, 2013 at 2:46 PM

The proper blend: Ok, pay attention. First you take the graham, you stick the chocolate on the graham. Then you roast the ‘mallow. When the ‘mallows flaming… you stick it on the chocolate. Then cover with the other end. Then you scarf. Kind of messy, but good! Try some!

faraway on August 16, 2013 at 2:47 PM

These standards reflect EPA’s updated production projections, which are informed by extensive engagement with industry and a thorough assessment of the biofuels market.

TRANSLATION: “Here’s another number we just pulled out of our ass.”

GarandFan on August 16, 2013 at 2:47 PM

Continued insanity by our betters

mickytx on August 16, 2013 at 2:50 PM

‘We’re only 8 months late, which makes us better than Harry Reid’s Senate on the budget!!!’

- Your friends at the EPA, which we’d like to remind you was established by Richard Nixon.

Resist We Much on August 16, 2013 at 2:58 PM

The American people simply cannot function without being told what to do by government…

PatriotRider on August 16, 2013 at 2:59 PM

The answer is easy.

Stop using ethanol in gasoline.

Tell the ethanol lobby to pound sand.

Oh, and BTW… why not let gasoline containers be just that, and not some device that you need a four-armed gorilla to open.

Further proof that a politician is the stupidest f@#king living creation all the universe.

Turtle317 on August 16, 2013 at 3:01 PM

Take the ethanol out of my damn gasoline!!!!!!! Stop buying Iowa voters with government money! Ethanol gasoline is destroying car engines. I have a number of large, small engines out here on my farm and the ethanol gasoline just screws up those engines. I have to buy the non-ethanol gasoline. Also, my brother’s brand new Yamaha outboard 150 manual specifically states that he must use only non-ethanol fuel. What happens with any gasoline is that it breaks down after about a month and ethanol in gasoline just makes matters worse. Any fuel I buy to use for small engines, gets a dose of gasoline stabilizer. And, I use a lot of it.

SC.Charlie on August 16, 2013 at 3:08 PM

TRANSLATION: “Here’s another number we just pulled out of our ass.”

GarandFan on August 16, 2013 at 2:47 PM

Years ago, I worked with a man who had two methods of supporting whatever it was he wanted to believe. The WAG system and the SWAG system. I asked him what the acronyms stood for and I was told the first was the “Wild-Assed Guess”, and the second was the “Scientific Wild-Assed Guess”.

I see both methods used in Government daily.

oldleprechaun on August 16, 2013 at 3:11 PM

Oh, and BTW… why not let gasoline containers be just that, and not some device that you need a four-armed gorilla to open.

Further proof that a politician is the stupidest f@#king living creation all the universe.

Turtle317 on August 16, 2013 at 3:01 PM

There are kits on the Internet that you can buy to retrofit the new containers with air escape valves. Just don’t tell anyone else about them.

SC.Charlie on August 16, 2013 at 3:11 PM

Eliminate the CAFE standards as well.

Only politicians campaign against problems they create.

JellyToast on August 16, 2013 at 3:12 PM

…and help reduce the carbon pollution that contributes to climate change.

So it’s onerous, harms engines, and is based on a lie.

A perfect liberal trifecta.

Akzed on August 16, 2013 at 3:15 PM

Resist We much, this is not Richard Nixon’s EPA. Nixon’s EPA has been transformed into an all powerful mutant that is out to quash any sensible pollution guidelines. There is nothing that I hate more than mankind’s pollution of this planet.

SC.Charlie on August 16, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Remember the Federal Telephone Tax? The one that started in 1898 to finance the Spanish American War, and in various forms was renewed over and over under different guises and lasted in fits and starts for almost 100 years? Yeah that one. That’s about how long this boondoggle will last.

Johnnyreb on August 16, 2013 at 3:26 PM

Resist We much, this is not Richard Nixon’s EPA. Nixon’s EPA has been transformed into an all powerful mutant that is out to quash any sensible pollution guidelines. There is nothing that I hate more than mankind’s pollution of this planet.

SC.Charlie on August 16, 2013 at 3:18 PM

I know that, but Those-Not-Democrats need to learn it. If they create an agency, it will become grotesquely enlarged and oppressive.

Look at who created which agencies:

Learning the ABCs: Have You Ever Wondered Who Gave You A Federal Agency?

Obama didn’t need to create a slew of new agencies. He just took the framework and put it on steroids.

Resist We Much on August 16, 2013 at 3:42 PM

Resist We much, this is not Richard Nixon’s EPA. Nixon’s EPA has been transformed into an all powerful mutant that is out to quash any sensible pollution guidelines. There is nothing that I hate more than mankind’s pollution of this planet.

SC.Charlie on August 16, 2013 at 3:18 PM

I hate to disagree with you (and RWM), but this is the logical extension of Nixon’s EPA. After all, who was the last President to institute wage and price controls (cough…Nixon…cough)?

Steve Eggleston on August 16, 2013 at 3:48 PM

To add to that point – the original EPA-mandated catalytic converter came about from Nixon’s EPA specifically to benefit Government Motors Version 1.0 and Engelhard Minerals & Chemicals. GM and Engelhard designed the two-way catalytic converter, and Engelhard had cornered the market on the rare metals required to make it work. They then ran to the EPA to mandate standards that they thought would ensure a piece of GM would forever be in every vehicle.

Of course, Honda figured out a way to meet those standards without the GM-Engelhard catalytic converter, so the Peanut Farmer EPA specifically mandated a three-way catalytic converter starting with the 1981 model year.

Steve Eggleston on August 16, 2013 at 4:06 PM

Simple solution; open a moonshine business at the gas stations.

michaelo on August 16, 2013 at 4:21 PM

I hate to disagree with you (and RWM), but this is the logical extension of Nixon’s EPA. After all, who was the last President to institute wage and price controls (cough…Nixon…cough)? – Steve Eggleston on August 16, 2013 at 3:48 PM

I think we all agree to some extent. The old axiom states that, “No government program never failed, it is just underfunded.” And, also once a federal agency is formed it never dies, it transforms into what might be called governmental cancer.

SC.Charlie on August 16, 2013 at 4:34 PM

You’re killin’ me, Smalls!

LOL! Classic.

Hat Trick on August 16, 2013 at 5:41 PM