EPA Proposal Puts Biofuels on Hold

biofuelsThe 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act was meant to put biofuels, especially ethanol, into a more important role in the United States fuel mix, but a recent EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) proposal seems to have put that on hold.

Ethanol, a biofuel made mostly from corn, has been a part of the United States fuel mix for a while now, depending on season and region, between 5% and 10%, and for special vehicles, up to 85%. Currently, the US consumes about 133 billion gallons per year. E10 is the maximum that conventional vehicles can take without destroying fuel systems, at least according to the oil companies. Automakers, as well, have problems with the increasing amount of ethanol in the fuel supply.

The push for biofuels helps to reduce emissions, as well as reduce the amount of oil that the US needs to import or drill. Automakers specializing in E85 vehicles, those that are designed to run on blends of ethanol up to 85%, help to reduce this amount even more, since their vehicles burn just 15% of the gasoline that conventional vehicles do. Building more E85 vehicles would require building more E85 refueling stations, since refueling equipment suffers from the same problems as conventional vehicle fuel delivery systems when exposed to ethanol blends over 10%.

The 2014 biofuels target was set at 18.15 billion gallons. If all the fuel consumed in the US was E10, this would amount to just 13.3 billion gallons. The other 4.85 billion gallons would have been made up by E85 stations, since conventional vehicles and stations can’t go beyond the 10% ethanol barrier. The  November 15th EPA proposal has just reduced that minimum target to 15.21 billion gallons, leaving just 1.91 billion gallons to be fed into E85 vehicles, a 60% reduction in demand for ethanol, equipment, and E85 vehicles.

There’s still a sixty-day public opinion period before the proposal might be approved. Aside from biofuels producers possibly being out 60% of their future business, companies specializing in E85 delivery equipment and automakers with E85 vehicles are bound to suffer as well. Don’t forget the increase in carbon dioxide emissions, as well!

image (c) Fox News

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  • Ben your understanding of the RFS2 is off..  For Starters the RFS2 

    The 2014 BIOFUELS current requirement is 18.15 Gallons. That is correct BUT that is all Biofuels together including:
    Corn Ethanol 14.4 Billion Gallons (up from 13.8 billion in 2013)Cellulosic ethanol 1.75 Billion Gallons (up from  100 million gallons in 2013)Bi Diesel 1.3 Billion GallonsOther 1 Billion Gallons  

    Of the 13+ Billion Gallons of Ethanol Produced this year 99% went to E10 ..nearly 1 Bilion Gallons were exported less than 500 million gallons went to E85  (not the 4.85 BILLION gallons you have posted…. looks like you made  a simple assumption that the 18.15 Gallons was just for ethanol) )

    BTW.. once we get to  2015 CORN Based ethanol is CAPPED at 15 Billion gallons through at least 2022 .. So despite what the EPA does 15 Billion gallons is the most corn gets anyways .. the next 16 Billion gallons must come from advanced feedstocks.. everythingh from field waste , (Poet Liberty is an a example), to beet sugar . to alge (Example Algenol) to Muncipal Waste ..yes the Trash you set out to the curb.. kind of the Holy Grail of ethanol productiona nd thta is taking off now as well .. examples Fiberight ,  INEOS , a Leader in that field is Enerkem

    The total required BioFuels by 2022 is 36 Billion Gallons:
    15 Corn Ethanol16 Billion Cellulosic Ethanol4 Billion Non -Celluloisc1 Billion Other/ Bio Diesel

  • NeilFarbstein

    Its real catch 22 as far as starting up a prairie grass to ethanol industry.  the government could give loans and tax credits to prime the pump.

  • NeilFarbstein well, it isn’t particularly cheap, and without demand, why would farmers grow the stuff? the EPA proposal threatens to cut that demand by perhaps 60%, which would make it even less profitable. :/

  • NeilFarbstein

    It wont deplete the food supply if agricultural waste left overs are used to make ethanol and other fuels. Why isnt praries grass being used in ethanol production? Is it noncompetitive and unprofitable?