On May 4, the Fuels America coalition, a group of ethanol feedstock producers and refiners sent a letter to President Obama regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) setting of renewable fuel volumes as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Fuels America feels that EPA has essentially given credence to the oil industries’ use of the so-called “blend wall” to block any increase in the market share of renewable fuels.
The agency is expected to release renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2014, 2015 and proposed volumes for 2016 on June 1. EPA’s 2013 proposal would have significantly lowered ethanol and biodiesel volumes.
The E10 (10 percent ethanol, 90 percent gasoline) “blend wall” is the point at which the fuel supply is saturated with 10 percent ethanol. While some changes in infrastructure and vehicle technology are needed to utilize higher blends, mid-level blends—such as E15—require smaller changes to the current infrastructure and most light-duty vehicles (since model year 2001) have been certified for E15 use by EPA. If EPA sets renewable fuel volumes while seeking to maintain the so-called "blend wall," this could block any additional ethanol in the fuel supply.
Fuels America is concerned that EPA's approach has "undermined the confidence of investors in the future of advanced biofuels, and in [the] administration’s willingness to take on oil companies."