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Time to reach out to Congress on ethanol

Jonathan Sweet, Editor In Chief

By Jonathan Sweet, Editor-in-Chief
September 27, 2013
Filed under Jonathan Sweet

A bipartisan group of congressmen is trying to drum up support for their efforts to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The four representatives – Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.; Jim Costa, D-Calif.; Peter Welch, D-Vt.; and Steve Womack, R-Ark. – have circulated a letter this week and asked their fellow members of Congress to sign on.

An excerpt:

Last month, EPA conceded that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) will soon require more ethanol be blended into gasoline than can be safely blended into gasoline.  Given this reality, we must urge the EPA to adjust the normally rigid RFS to recognize market conditions and realities. 

The RFS mandates that 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels be used in our nation’s fuel supply by 2020, with as much as 15 billion gallons of the mandate being fulfilled by corn ethanol.   In 2014, the mandate is estimated to be 18.15 gallons of renewable fuel of which approximately 14.4 billion gallons will be made up by corn ethanol.  The government has one tool that can provide immediate relief from the RFS.  The law gives the Administrator of the EPA flexibility to reduce the required volume of renewable fuels in any year.  While the EPA has consistently refused to use this authority, the supply realities should be the impetus for long awaited action by the EPA when setting volume levels for 2014.  Prompt action by the EPA can help to ease short supply concerns, prevent engine damage, save jobs across many U.S. industries, and keep families fed.  Now is the time to use this authority to reduce the RFS.

They’re not making much progress, but at least it’s some sort of movement in the marine industry’s battle against E15. I won’t go into the issues again with the 15 percent ethanol blend, but you can read more in our earlier coverage here, here  and here.

As the letter notes, the biggest problem with the RFS for 2014 is that it requires such a large amount of ethanol to be blended into the fuel supply that it makes further spread of E15, with all its inherent problems, a foregone conclusion.

As of this morning about a dozen representatives had signed on to the letter, but it takes a couple hundred to make anything happen in the House. Many more signed a similar letter last year, so good chance they’ll get more by the time all is said and done.

Still, it’s a tough time to get attention in Washington, what with the debt ceiling fight and the 9,423rd vote to defund Obamacare, so contacting your representative and ask them to sign the “Goodlatte letter” is a smart move as well. The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, among other groups, is urging its members to do that as well.

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