It Is Time to Address RVP
by Mike Lorenz (Sheetz) Back in 1990, Congress limited the amount of evaporative emissions from vehicle fuel at 9 pounds per square inch (psi) Reid vapor pressure (RVP) in the Clean Air Act. While pure ethanol has a 3 psi RVP, when combined with gasoline at low levels, the RVP of the total fuel blend exceeds 9 psi. To accommodate ethanol blends, Congress specified that fuel with 10 percent ethanol would receive a 1 psi RVP waiver, and extended that relief to blends below 10 percent. Unfortunately, EPA has shown no willingness to extend the waiver to blends above 10 percent, which severely restricts the sale of E15 during the summer driving season, June 1 to Sept. 15.
The restrictions placed on E15 due to the statutory RVP limits cause a number of problems for retailers who want to offer consumers a wide variety of choice at the pump. First off, it creates a gray area at our retail locations and leaves us with a menu of unappealing options. We either have to block off the hoses that pump E15, which confuses customers into thinking our facilities are broken, or sell E15 as a flex fuel, which limits the market for the fuel and isn’t explicitly regulated by the EPA. All of those options obviously are problematic and discourage some retailers from offering the fuel altogether simply to avoid having to deal with the hassle of making those costly adjustments in the summer. Having an obscure statute from 1990 preclude retailers from offering such an outstanding product, especially considering E15 actually has a lower RVP profile than E10, seems counterproductive and, frankly, silly.
Now that the summer driving season is coming to a close and Congress is reconvening, we urge you to reach out to your elected officials and ask them to remove this unnecessary barrier. It constricts retailer freedom and inhibits consumer choice. We know that consumers are more environmentally conscious than ever before and, at the end of the day, we want to help them make a positive impact on the environment by filling up with E15, and offer them savings at the pump. Tell your officials to vote yes on bills S. 1239 and H.R. 1736, which would extend the RVP waiver to ethanol blends above 10 percent so we can continue to expand the available fuel options for consumers across the country. READ MORE
August Is the Time to Reach Out and Meet Your Member of Congress
by Brent Erickson (Biotechnology Innovation Organization/Biofuels Digest) Members of Congress just returned to their home states and districts for the August recess to meet with constituents and campaign for the upcoming elections. You can be sure the oil producers will be seeking meetings with their representatives. But August provides a great opportunity for biofuel and renewable chemical producers to seize the day and to invite Members of Congress – as well as other general election candidates – to get a firsthand look at the technology progress and economic impact of our industry and meet the hardworking Americans who are building it. I urge you to reach out now and invite your Congressman and Senators to your facilities and offices for a briefing.
In your invitation to your Congressman, Senator, or candidate, you can let him or her know that you and your employees are among the quarter million U.S. workers employed in the biofuel and renewable chemical industry. Overall, biobased production contributes approximately $50 billion each year to the U.S. economy. That’s a sizeable portion of the $252 billion in annual sales of biobased products worldwide, but there’s still room for rapid growth. Worldwide sales of renewable chemicals and biofuels are projected to increase to $441 billion by 2020, with annual growth of 8 percent over the next several years.
You can also remind Members of Congress and the candidates that federal policies are important to help U.S. industry grow and compete for a share of the worldwide market.
Please also ask your Member of Congress to support bipartisan legislation that will help our industry continue to be competitive. The Renewable Chemicals Act (S.2271) introduced by Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow and companion legislation in the House (H.3390) introduced by New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell deserve additional support. … The Master Limited Partnership Parity Act, introduced by Delaware Sen. Chris Coons and Texas Rep. Ted Poe would provide renewable energy producers access to a tax vehicle currently available only to petroleum companies.
You can find contact information for your Representative or Senator on their website. Offer a day and time when you extend your invitation, but try to be flexible and work with the member’s office to finalize plans. Even if the member is unable to visit your facility this month, he or she may be able to accept the invitation at some future date and will appreciate hearing the concerns of a constituent. READ MORE (emphasis added)
Renewable Fuels Deserve a Place at the Pump
by Jim Talent (The American Spectator) The case for alternative energy done right. — … No other policy has so effectively undermined the international oil cartel that seeks to profit from our dependence on oil.
Today, ethanol and other biofuels meet about 10 percent of our transportation fuel needs. Without the RFS, which requires refiners to meet specific blending targets, there is simply no way that our dependence on foreign oil could have fallen by half since 2005. This has occurred not only without increasing the price of automobile fuel, but while decreasing it; a gallon of ethanol sells for about $1.70 per gallon, so ethanol blends hold down the price at the pump. Moreover, the market-based trading system that allows refiners to buy and sell biofuel credits — or RINS — has given the industry broad flexibility to meet the changing needs of the marketplace with minimal cost or inconvenience.
It’s true that the trading system opens up some opportunities for fraud, but the answer to that is not to eliminate the trading system, much less the RFS, but to prosecute the fraud.
The RFS is no give-away program; it simply guarantees market access in a sector where one class of producers — dominated by foreign players — would otherwise have a monopoly over consumer options.
In an unrestricted marketplace, there would be no need for the RFS, but the market for transportation fuels hasn’t fallen into that category for 45 years.
But some OPEC members are already looking forward to phase two, when they pull back on global supplies and drive prices at the pump back to record levels. The American consumer is just a pawn in this game, but it is not a game that can be played against renewable fuels, because of the RFS. The price of ethanol and other renewables is set by competition, not by a cartel.
As a result, billions of dollars have been invested into the domestic biofuels industry. Home-grown options are more affordable than ever, they produce dramatically fewer emissions, and displace toxic gasoline additives linked to cancer and groundwater contamination. Moreover, the industry now supports more than 852,000 American jobs. And if the renewable fuels industry grows enough, it has the potential to break the market power of the international oil cartel.
Just this month, research from Argonne National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory demonstrated that high-octane ethanol blends can deliver more power and greater mileage than conventional gasoline.
It remains the best path to a free market — the most effective tool to take the levers of power out of the hands of a hostile international cartel and put it into the hands of domestic producers who, through innovation and competition, are lowering the price of fuel and enhancing the energy security of the United States. READ MORE