The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new 2014 renewable fuel standards earlier this month. The EPA is looking for public comment on the standards which address the levels of renewable fuels to be blended into gasoline and diesel. These new standards are required under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
The standard will set requirements for the annual volume of renewable fuels that must be in all motor vehicle gasoline and diesel produced or imported into the U.S. in 2014. There are different approaches discussed in the proposal and the EPA is seeking public comments on the following volumes in particular:
CategoryProposed Volume aRangeCellulosic biofuel17 mill gal8-30 million gallonsBiomass-based diesel1.28 bill gal1.28 billion gallonsAdvanced biofuel2.20 bill gal2.0-2.51 billion gallonsRenewable fuel15.21 bill gal15.00-15.52 billion gallons
aAll volumes are ethanol-equivalent, except for biomass-based diesel which is actual
These new proposed standards would require almost 3 billion fewer gallons of biofuel to be blended into gasoline than was originally set in the 2007 biofuel law. Because people are driving less and fuel economy has improved since 2007, fuel mixes have hit he E10 blend wall. Basically, only newer and more advanced cars can handle fuel with an ethanol mix over 10%.
The Renewable Fuels Association has stated that an E15 blend is safe for all post-2001 vehicles. Of course, the automaker and oil industries have provided their own studies refuting this statement.
“The original Bush-Cheney renewable fuels standard was designed to reduce imports of foreign oil while boosting farm income [from corn-based ethanol],” explained Dan Weiss, a Senior Fellow and the Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress. “Little consideration was given to the ‘blend wall’ that limits ethanol to 10 percent of a gallon of gasoline.”
It is hard to tell what the outcome of this proposal will be and what types of comments will be received by the EPA. While it’s positive that fuel economy is improving and Americans are driving less, should we back peddle on standards created to be more climate-friendly and allow for less dependence on the international oil market?
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