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Home » Deliver Dispense, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Agency, Federal Regulation, Infrastructure, Opinions, Policy, White House

Is Obama Doing Inhofe’s Dirty Work on Biofuels?

Submitted by on November 12, 2015 – 12:39 pmNo Comment

by Paul Alexander (Huffington Post)  … “That’s the biggest risk we face — not acting,” Obama said. “Today, we’re continuing to lead by example. Because ultimately, if we’re going to prevent large parts of this earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky.”

It’s ironic, then, that even as Obama extolls the virtue of keeping fossil fuels in the ground, his administration is in the process of gutting the Renewable Fuel Standard, the most significant piece of legislation passed over the past decade to do just that — reduce oil consumption in the United States and keep fossil fuels in the ground. Created by the U.S. Congress in 2005 and strengthened in 2007, the RFS ordered oil companies to blend increasing amounts of renewable fuels — mostly ethanol — into the nation’s transportation fuel supply. Starting with nine barrels of renewable fuel in 2008, the amount would increase each year until it reached 36 billion by 2022.

Claiming “[b]iofuels are a key part of the Obama administration’s ‘all of the above’ energy strategy,” EPA administrator Gina McCarthy nevertheless revealed that her agency would propose a reduction in the amount of biofuel required to be blended by four to five billion gallons a year — a annual decrease of 15 to 20 percent, starting in 2014.

When the RFS was originally drawn up in 2005, two waivers — for severe harm to the economy or the environment and for inadequate domestic supply — were included that would allow the EPA to alter the law’s requirements. Inhofe attempted to insert language that would allow a waiver for “distribution capacity,” meaning RFS requirements could be changed if the industry reached its capacity to distribute renewable fuels. Since the nation’s distribution system — that is to say, the gasoline stations — is owned for the most part by oil companies, proponents of the RFS argued Inhofe’s “distribution waiver” would amount to the oil industry determining the fate of the RFS. As a result, Inhofe’s language was cut from the bill while it was in committee.

Still, when the EPA issued its official proposal for RFS reform in May 2015 following a year-and-a-half delay — it must be finalized by November 30 — it contained language that echoed Inhofe’s “distribution capacity” waiver. “[T]he limited number and geographic distribution of retail stations that offer higher ethanol blends such as E15 and E85, the number of [flex-fuel vehicles] that have access to E85, as well as other market factors” — all factors having to do with distribution — “combine to place significant restrictions on the volume of ethanol that can be supplied to vehicles at the present time.” The EPA used this justification to weaken the RFS.

The oil industry controls gasoline distribution. Once the EPA allows the industry to make decisions about the RFS for distribution reasons, the oil industry is effectively dictating to the government how the law should be enforced.

After all, as he lectures world leaders on the urgency of addressing global warming, his own administration is gutting the RFS, the very type of legislation countries should adopt to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.  READ MORE

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