Breaking Through the Blend Wall

The ethanol industry's effort to overcome marketplace hurdles in 2014 will be aided by the largest corn crop in history, more auto companies providing E15 warranty coverage, and favorable economics for E85. Plus, the annual 'In/Out' list.
By Bob Dinneen | December 17, 2013

2013 could be described as the Year of the Blend Wall. For the first time, refiners were required to use more ethanol than could be sold as 10 percent blends, renewable identification number (RIN) prices rose, and the American Petroleum Institute’s PR machine tried to recreate the narrative around the renewable fuels standard (RFS) to suggest growing the market for renewable fuels beyond 10 percent was never envisioned nor practical. That’s not true, of course, as the whole intent of the RFS was, and remains, to drive innovation in both the production and marketing of renewable fuels. 

Such divergent views of our energy future made for good media and political fodder throughout the year. Still, with characteristic fortitude, the ethanol industry carried on, doing its part to provide cost-effective oil alternatives to consumers,  lowering motor fuel costs, reducing imports of oil and breaking down the blend wall one E85 or E15 pump at a time!

The effort to eviscerate the blend wall will continue in 2014 for sure, but that effort will be aided by the largest corn crop in history, more and more auto companies providing warranty coverage for E15, and favorable economics driving E85 into the market.  So as we look to 2014 with optimism and resolve, I present my annual "In/Out" list for both catharsis and levity.  

OUT/50-Year Drought; IN/Bin-Busting Corn Crop

OUT/Idled Ethanol Plants; IN/Full-Capacity Production 

OUT/Biodiesel RIN Fraud; IN/EPA Quality Assurance Program

OUT/Midgrade; IN/E15/E85

OUT/AAA Anti-Ethanol Campaign; IN/Better World Auto Club

OUT/Big Oil Whining About RIN Prices; IN/Oil Company RIN Profits 

OUT/Ethanol Imports; IN/Ethanol Exports

OUT/Sugar Surpluses; IN/USDA’s Feedstock Flexibility Program

OUT/Jeff Dunham and Achmed; IN/Mr. Slick and Dummy

OUT/Rep. Sensenbrenner’s E15 Histrionics; IN/E15 2014 MY Warranty Coverage

OUT/87 Octane; IN/84 Suboctane

OUT/Motorcyclists Rally Against RFS; IN/Iowans Rally for RFS

OUT/Deepwater Horizon Spill; IN/Lac-Mégantic Train Derailment 

OUT/Blend Wall; IN/RFA’s Infrastructure Program

OUT/China DDG Antidumping Case; IN/Record DDG Exports to China

OUT/Cellulose Five Years Away; IN/Ineos, Abengoa, DuPont and Poet

OUT/CRC E15 Polemic; IN/DOE E15 Technical Review

OUT/Lisa Jackson; IN/Gina McCarthy

OUT/Big Oil’s Smear Campaign; IN/Fuels America 

OUT/AP Reputation for Fairness; IN/RFS AdsRFA AP Fact Check

OUT/E15 Scaremongering; IN/Bobby Likis Car Clinic

OUT/RFS Legislative Attacks; IN/RVO Administrative Attack


Author: Bob Dinneen
President and CEO,
Renewable Fuels Association