EPA: Ethanol Blend Wall Has Been Reached

An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official said last week that the "blend wall" has been reached and it's unrealistic to expect refiners and retailers to offer E-15 or other blends that the current petroleum infrastructure can't support and that many vehicles cannot use.  

Those comments were made Dec. 11 at a Senate hearing by Charles Grundler, head of EPA's Transportation and Air Quality Office. EPA recognizes it’s not feasible for gasoline refiners to meet the 2014 ethanol mandate, which is why the agency proposed easing the requirement, Grundler said.  

The biodiesel mandate was not changed for 2014, remaining at the 2013 level of 1.28 billion.

EPA plans to to analyze ways the industry could increase the use of biofuels in coming years to get the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) “back on a long-term trajectory," Grundler said. He added that production of cellulosic biofuels, which Congress predicted would ramp up quickly following passage of the legislation in 2007, is just now starting to “take off.”

The RFS has been a major issue on Capitol Hill over the last year.  Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said the shortfall in production of cellulosic ethanol shows that the entire requirement should be scrapped. Vitter, along with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), is working on a bill to amend the RFS by reducing the ethanol blending requirement but maintaining the targets for advanced biofuels.

In addition, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) are proposing legisltion that would cut corn ethanol from the RFS. However, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Enivornment and Public Works, said now is not the time to reverse course on biofuels and that she will oppose any effort that would dramatically change the RFS. "I have the gavel for now. I'm not going to let us reverse course. I'm just not," she said. 

EPA will be  accepting public comments on proposed changes to the renewable fuel standard until Jan. 28. 

Mindy Long's photo

Mindy Long

Before launching a full-time freelance career, Long edited NATSO's Stop Watch magazine. Prior to that Long worked as a staff reporter for Transport Topics, a weekly trade newspaper, covering freight transportation, fuel and environmental issues. In addition to covering the transportation sector, Long has written, reported and edited for a variety of media outlets. She was the Washington correspondent for WCAX-TV (CBS) in Burlington, Vt., a criminal court reporter in Chicago and a freelance copy editor for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine in Washington D.C. Long hold a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Ill., and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Westminster College in Salt Lake City.More
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