It’s Time to End the Myth That High RIN Prices Prove Existence of the Blend Wall
by Brent Erickson (Biotechnology Innovation Organization/Biofuels Digest) … Data recently released by EPA refutes the widely held assumption that reaching and exceeding the blend wall caused the 2013 rise in RIN prices. This newly available data calls for a thorough reconsideration of the proposed solutions.
Now, data recently released by EPA includes obligated parties’ reported fuel use and use of RINs to satisfy annual obligations from 2010 through 2013 (the latest year for which refiners have fully demonstrated annual compliance). The numbers indicate that obligated parties reached the blend wall as early as 2010 and definitely breached it by 2012. The explanation is simple and often overlooked in economic analyses of the RFS program: small refiners and small refineries (even those owned by large refiners) were exempt from the RFS through 2012. The remaining obligated refineries were nevertheless able to blend ethanol into the obligated volumes of gasoline at a rate exceeding 10 percent or to obtain needed RINs at low cost. Moreover, the data reveals that despite having reached the blend wall by 2010, obligated parties continued to accumulate excess RINs to carry over for future compliance years.
The petroleum industry is currently working Capitol Hill, trying to win last minute passage of the Flores-Welch bill, which would cap the RFS below 10 percent of gasoline volumes. This cap is demonstrably unnecessary – obligated parties were able to exceed the blend wall as early as 2010. The petroleum refining industry is also working Capitol Hill, trying to get a brand new exemption from the RFS for themselves. Notably, the petroleum industry (represented by API) opposes this new exemption. Congress should reject both groups’ requests for special favors, primarily because they are aimed at solving a blend wall problem that doesn’t (and never did) exist. READ MORE