Lawmakers are Pushing to Remove Mandated Ethanol Levels from Fuels
A bipartisan group of lawmakers is currently hard at work to enact legislation that will change The Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) mandate. They're calling it the "Renewable Fuel Standard Reform Act" (H.R. 704) and it's designed to protect consumers from the effects of ethanol gas on engines. If passed, this bill would remove the EPA's RFS mandate which currently requires 15 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol to be blended into the U.S. fuel supply annually from 2015-2022.
The intentions of the RFS were to reduce the U.S. dependence on foreign oil, but this plan didn’t account for the damaging effects of ethanol on the metal, plastic and rubber components of engines. This is the second attempt by Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Steve Womack (R-Ariz.), and Jim Costa (D-Calif.) to pass this bill. The driving force behind this movement is the idea that the current RFS mandates and regulations are currently "unworkable" for the refiners, our cars and the equipment that use this fuel.
While this bill failed to pass in its initial push in 2013, the group of representatives remain optimistic and enthusiastic about its renewed push to pass this legislation. They're proposing a new bill that would completely repeal the RFS mandate imposed by the EPA and also repeal the amendment that raised the ethanol cap from 10 to 15 percent in 2007. Along with this new bill, the group plans on continuing its efforts to lobby the EPA for changes to the RFS program which it regulates.
This new push has created a buzz in the fuel industries. While the oil and gas industry is praising this movement to reduce the fuel requirements—the biofuels industry is labeling this movement as reckless. Those of us in the outdoor power equipment industry are excited to see an acknowledgement of how harmful these regulations are to engines and a movement towards reducing the ethanol levels in consumer fuels.