Ethanol groups criticize bill to limit ethanol to 9.7 percent

By Erin Voegele | May 11, 2016

On May 10, a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that aims to limit the total volume of ethanol contained in transportation fuel to 9.7 percent. Members of the ethanol industry have spoken out to criticize the legislation.

The bill, titled the “Food and Fuel Consumer Protection Act of 2016,” or H.R. 5180, was introduced by Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas. To date, Reps. Jim Costa, D-Calif.; Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.; Cedric L. Richmond, D-La.; Peter Welch, D-Vt.; and Steve Womack, R-Ark., have signed on to cosponsor the measure. Following its introduction, the bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

In a statement issued on the legislation, Flores, Welch and Costa reiterated several often debunked claims regarding ethanol. Flores claims that “the RFS is hurting consumer choices and increasing food and fuel costs for our families.” He also claims that higher ethanol blends are harmful to small engines, engines for recreational vehicles and older vehicle engines, and that current renewable fuel standard (RFS) mandates are causing higher emissions. Welch called the RFS a “well-intended flop that’s inflicting harm on consumers, the economy and the environment.” Costa said the RFS is no longer sustainable and said the policy is “negatively impacting American industries, including agriculture, manufacturing and food service.”

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, has spoken out to criticize the bill. “Passage of this bill would represent a complete capitulation to the oil industry that steadfastly refuses to provide consumers higher octane, lower cost alternative fuels at the pump,” he said. “They whine about a so-called blend wall even as they continue to build it themselves by denying consumer access to E15 and E85. The RFS was made necessary by oil company intransigence. It was intended to break the stranglehold oil companies have on the motor fuel market by forcing access. This bill would gut the RFS and send America’s energy and climate change policy back decades. Americans want choices at the pump, they want to see lower carbon fuels, they want to spend less on motor fuel, and they want to stimulate investments in new technologies and new fuels to drive our economy in a low carbon world. This bill would sacrifice all of that at the altar of Big Oil, and that is why it will never pass.”

Tom Buis, co-chair of Growth Energy, has also weighed in on the measure. ““This bill is incredibly flawed because the ethanol industry is already producing over the bill’s 9.7 percent threshold and growing. Perhaps more importantly this bill would deal a blow to American consumers who have embraced ethanol as a less expensive, 21st century fuel that is higher performing and allows for consumer choice,” he said.

“Homegrown ethanol is an American success story that’s helped usher America’s path to energy independence with a clean-burning fuel that’s better for the air we breathe and our environment,” Buis said. “American farmers have shown that they can feed and fuel the world and any claim that says we cannot have both food and fuel is simply a self-serving charge aimed at driving a specific agenda with no factual merit.”

“The fact is that consumers are demanding and using higher blends of biofuels, like E15, because it is an advanced fuel with higher-octane levels that increases performance in 21st century vehicles,” he continued. “Furthermore, E15 burns cleaner, lowers toxic emissions, and saves consumers at the pump—facts the oil industry desperately attempts to blur with negative advertising campaigns and misleading legislation.”

Buis said, “This legislation is a measure that would move the clock backward and demolish the progress made under the RFS to move America forward in terms of energy independence, consumer choice at the pump, and a cleaner future.”