Big Ethanol’s bad week just got worse: EPA announces reduction to 2014 biofuels requirements

posted at 2:41 pm on November 15, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

The corn ethanol lobby has not been having a good week, with industry representatives busily hitting back against an in-depth Associated Press investigation that shines just a little too much light on the longstanding but uncomfortable fact that the federal government’s enthusiastic enforcement of the 2007 Renewable Fuel Standard is definitively not the “green” climate-change solution its proponents like to avidly pretend it is, but rather just the opposite.

The Renewable Fuel Standard requires the country’s refiners to blend a certain amount of biofuels into the fuel supply, but oil companies have lately been warning that the annually increasing total amount of biofuels they are required to use combined with slackening demand for gasoline is running them up against the “blend wall,” the point at which most cars can no longer handle the amount of ethanol in the mixed fuel. In October, a rather controversial rumor went around that the Environmental Protection Agency might finally be considering acknowledging this reality by partially easing up on the required biofuels quotas, which in turn sparked a slew of furious lobbying from both sides with Big Ethanol arguing that not furthering the consumer mandate would more or less amount to a national travesty.

Boom. Via the Washington Post:

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday proposed smaller requirements for biofuel use in 2014, trimming targets for corn-based ethanol for the first time ever and setting ethanol use at 15.21 billion gallons, just under 10 percent of motor fuel and 14 percent lower than targets established by Congress in 2007.

The agency’s proposal angered farm groups, corn ethanol producers and supporters of biodiesel, but it mollified oil companies, which have long argued that if the content of ethanol in motor fuel exceeded 10 percent — known as the blend wall — it might damage cars, motorcycles and lawn mowers. Groups representing ethanol makers say that mixing significantly higher levels of ethanol with gasoline would not harm vehicles.

“Facts are facts,” said Stephen H. Brown, vice president for governmental affairs at the oil refiner Tesoro. “They’re so stubborn even this administration has to accept them.”

“They’re capitulating to the oil companies,” Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, said of the administration. He said EPA’s proposed targets would hurt farmers and violate the spirit of the renewable fuels standard Congress adopted. “The RFS was about forcing marketplace change,” he said, “and EPA is giving the oil companies a get of jail free card.”

“The RFS was about forcing marketplace change.” …Yes, how in the world could that have ever gone wrong?


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Today: Kill Nocare.
Tomorrow: Kill the EPA!

22044 on November 15, 2013 at 2:48 PM

Erika does the happy dance for this one.

meci on November 15, 2013 at 2:52 PM

That’s alright…they’ll just ramp em’ back up about this time next year….

BigWyo on November 15, 2013 at 3:00 PM

EPA to bloodsucking lobbyists:

‘Just wait until after the election and we can be more flexible.”

BigWyo on November 15, 2013 at 3:01 PM

forcing marketplace change – a gaffe is accidentally telling the truth.

RSbrewer on November 15, 2013 at 3:04 PM

He said EPA’s proposed targets would hurt farmers and violate the spirit of the renewable fuels standard Congress adopted.

Yeah, and if you think farmers means a sunburnt grizzled ol’ hayseed on his 15-year-old John Deere working 16 hour days and barely getting by… that’s exactly what big farma wants you to think.

Marcola on November 15, 2013 at 3:08 PM

forcing marketplace change – a gaffe is accidentally telling the truth.

RSbrewer on November 15, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Exactly.

Athos on November 15, 2013 at 3:09 PM

How about a reduction down to zero? Then let’s celebrate with some ethanol that’s made for its intended use.

Ward Cleaver on November 15, 2013 at 3:11 PM

There is no reason at all to subsidize ethanol – PERIOD.

A decade or so ago, we had finally managed to weed almost all the subsidies out of the “farm Big Agri-business bill” but just then a recession or something hit and suddenly all the crap was reinstated.

If we get rid of agricultural subsidies and food stamps, food prices will fall back to reasonable levels.

Adjoran on November 15, 2013 at 3:14 PM

Erika does the happy dance for this one.

as does my F150, mower, chain saw, weed eater and a few old cars I have laying around

DanMan on November 15, 2013 at 3:14 PM

I love to see big government project – regardless of party – fall apart. On a side note, didn’t that idiot Nixon establish the EPA?

MoreLiberty on November 15, 2013 at 3:15 PM

There is no reason at all to subsidize ethanol – PERIOD.

Agreed. There is no reason to subsidize farms period.

MoreLiberty on November 15, 2013 at 3:18 PM

ADM and other mega-agricultural parasites hardest hit.

Farmer John, out in his field? Not so much.

orangemtl on November 15, 2013 at 3:21 PM

“The RFS was about forcing marketplace change,”

OK, you stupid statists, here’s the reason this won’t work in the first place (see Obamascare).

HomeoftheBrave on November 15, 2013 at 3:21 PM

For once, EPA faced reality and did something right.

Now how about repealing useless regulations on carbon dioxide emissions, which have crippled the power generation industry for no good reason?

Thanks to fracking in the Marcellus Shale, we’ve got lots of natural gas, which is the cleanest way to generate power, but the CO2 regulations prevent power companies from getting permits. Why export natural gas when we can burn it and generate power here in the USA?

Steve Z on November 15, 2013 at 3:27 PM

That ethanol scam was all about artificially raising prices for corn in exchange for campaign contributions to the politicians keeping it going in Washington. Nothing more.

Anti-Statist on November 15, 2013 at 3:56 PM

The problem is that the energy cost is negative. It takes more oil to produce ethanol than if you just burned it as gasoline in your car.

One gallon of gasoline produces 114,000 BTUs of energy. One gallon of ethanol produces 76,000 BTUs, or about 2/3rds of that.

When you factor in extraction, shipping, and refining, it takes roughly 22,000 BTU to make a gallon of gasoline.

When you plant, grow, harvest, ship, cook, and distill the corn it takes about 98,000 BTU to make a gallon of ethanol.

Wait, but doesn’t ethanol produce only 76,000 BTUs? That means there is an energy deficit of 22,000 BTUs.

That’s right. Making corn ethanol actually uses more oil than if you just shipped it to the refinery in the first place and burned it in your car.

What kind of idiots would think up of something like this?

Oh yeah, the government. Nevermind.

Source:
http://www.phoenixprojectfoundation.us/uploads/The_Many_Problems_of_Ethanol.pdf

Gideon7 on November 15, 2013 at 4:27 PM

I love to see big government project – regardless of party – fall apart. On a side note, didn’t that idiot Nixon establish the EPA? MoreLiberty on November 15, 2013 at 3:15 PM

And OSHA.

Akzed on November 15, 2013 at 4:40 PM

Gideon7 on November 15, 2013 at 4:27 PM

All that racist math is racist.

Akzed on November 15, 2013 at 4:40 PM

Okay ethanol producers, here’s the deal. We breach the “blend wall”.

AND YOU AND YOUR COHORTS REPLACE EVERY ENGINE THAT IS DAMAGED BY THE NEW AND IMPROVED ‘GREEN’ FUEL BLEND.

Sounds fair to me. A win-win. They get to sell more ethanol; consumers get protected when the law of unintended consequences rears it’s ugly head.

And the responsible response from ethanol producers will be……………………………..crickets……………….

GarandFan on November 15, 2013 at 4:55 PM

Oh, don’t worry if your engines are damaged by higher ethanol concentrations, it only means that those old engines are substandard and need replacing with government-approved full-coverage engines, at a higher cost, of course. If you can’t afford them, you can get a government subsidy. Trust me, you will be happier in the long run.

“If you like your engines, you can keep your engines…oh, never mind.”

merlich on November 15, 2013 at 6:07 PM