The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a lower Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) requirement for next year. This is the amount of renewable fuels that must be blended into the country’s motor vehicle fuel supply. But the proposed level is below what Congress called for in the 2007 law. American Farm Bureau economist Matt Erickson says that proposal is a disappointing step backward.
“If you look at the Renewable Fuels Standard, it’s really a success story. We’ve seen oil imports decrease from about 60 percent down to 40 percent in that five years. Even with the economic downturn, we’ve seen tens of thousands of good paying jobs within an industry that supports our overall energy policy. And, quite frankly, we’re moving away from relying on a foreign energy source.”
The EPA proposal calls for 16 percent less renewable fuels usage than the 2007 law. Erickson admits the energy situation has changed since that law was written.
“The U.S. was forecasted to consume over 150 billion gallons of gasoline. And because we had the 2008-2009 recession and we have higher mileage requirements or CAFE standards in our vehicles, you know, times have changed. The energy situation has changed. The whole purpose of the Renewable Fuels Standard is to put more renewable fuel into the marketplace, even though the expectation for gasoline consumption has decreased.”
The public has 60 days to share their opinions on the proposal. But a resolution could take longer than that. Erickson expects a court challenge questioning if EPA has the authority to reduce levels Congress put in place. Regardless, he hopes consumers see renewable fuels as the wave of the not-so-distant future.
“Brazil’s using a mixture of E25, whereas our common mixture is E10 and we do have a market structure for E85 within this country or an 85 percent blend of ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. We have over 11 million flex-fuel vehicles in this country and it’s growing. So the potential for flex-fuel vehicles within this country, that potential’s there and we need to realize it and move forward and not backward.”