Former Sen. Tom Daschle advocates high-octane fuels at NEC

By Matt Thompson | February 13, 2019

Former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle delivered a speech at the Renewable Fuel Association’s National Ethanol Conference advocating for a high-octane standard while keeping the Renewable Fuel Standard, removing regulatory barriers to including higher-level blends in the nation’s fuel supply, and collaborating with stakeholders to take the industry “to the next level.”

Daschle, who founded the High Octane Low Carbon Fuels Coalition, said, “We have 276 million vehicles on the road today; 17 million new ones every year; 140 billion gallons of gasoline, trillions of miles, and…1 billion tons of additional carbon into the air in the course of the next year. The stakes couldn’t be much higher. We need high octane, low carbon fuels.”

But he said, the solution is not to replace the RFS with a national octane standard. “Now, people have said, ‘Well, how about just trading out RFS for high octane? And my answer to that is, ‘Well, that’s a false choice,’” Daschle said. He said the regulatory progress the industry has seen thus far has been a progression, with each new piece of legislation building on its predecessors. “[The Clean Air Act amendments] was our launch vehicle. RFS was our rocket booster, and clean octane will put us in orbit. High octane, low carbon fuels will put us in orbit, the likes of which we can’t even imagine the impacts of today,” he said.

But, he admitted to challenges in today’s political climate, and finding a solution through legislation may not be possible. “I have to say, in the short term, I don’t think a legislative fix is possible, he said. “And it really pains me to say that. … Congress is dysfunctional today.”

While he acknowledged the industry’s challenges—and commended it for its resilience—he did offer optimism for its future. “These are difficult times, he said. “And we’ll still face a lot more difficulty. But difficulty is an excuse that history never accepts. We’re going to overcome this. We’re going to launch into orbit. We’re going to look back in a couple of years and say, ‘Remember that?’ … And I’ll be with you every step of the way,” Daschle said.