A Higher Market for Ethanol Former Author of RFS Legislation Sees Octane Levels as Advancement for Ethanol
by Chris Clayton (DTN The Progressive Farmer) Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle keeps close tabs on what’s happening with biofuels even though he’s been out of the U.S. Senate more than a decade now.
Daschle, who is working with the High Octane Low Carbon Alliance, told DTN in an interview last week he thinks the time is right for the ethanol industry to transcend the debate over the Renewable Fuel Standard — or even 15% blend levels — to help ethanol gain more market share by focusing on octane.
Researchers for the U.S. Department of Energy agree. In a report earlier this year, the Department of Energy spotlighted fuels with the highest potential to create more mid-level blends for markets through 2030. The goal of the study was to point out the best fuels with “a market pull of up to 25 billion gallons a year of domestically sourced fuel” that would improve fuel economy of both light-duty and heavy-duty pickups and create more lower-cost pathways to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
The only feedstock that scored out successfully was the alcohol family — ethanol. Only ethanol could hit the octane numbers and heat vaporization needed for the high-compression engines that will be coming for better fuel economy.
Daschle has already played a significant role in ethanol history as a former Democratic South Dakota senator. In 1990, he pushed for changes to the Clean Air Act that gave ethanol some federal standing as a reformulated fuel additive. Then, in 1999, he and former Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., first co-sponsored bipartisan legislation that eventually became the Renewable Fuel Standard. Daschle was Senate Minority Leader in 2004 when it appeared the Renewable Fuel Standard was picking up steam in Congress, but he lost his re-election bid that year and was not able to see the actual passage of the legislation in 2005. READ MORE