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Effort to Increase E15 Availability Is Stopped, for Now
Bill Fails to Get Out of Committee


In spite of desires by the ethanol industry to increase the amount of their product in the U.S. fuel supply, some Republican senators are calling for a complete overhaul of the Renewable Fuel Standard, citing its many problems.

With a last minute push by both supporters and detractors, the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act, which would allow the sale of E15 fuel year-round, did not garner the needed backing to be moved forward. Leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee recently announced that the bill, co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, and Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, would not be acted upon further before the August recess but proponents, such as Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy, which represents ethanol producers, are not throwing in the towel yet.

Presently, E15 is available in 29 states but only between October and May, with summer sales restricted in an attempt to reduce smog, a problem that ethanol supporters believe is unfounded due to modern engine technology.

Opponents to the bill, including environmentalists, the outdoor power equipment, boating and motorcycle industries that worry about engine damage that can occur to their products by higher ethanol blends of fuel, the oil industry and government representatives from states where that industry has a strong presence, celebrated this victory - temporary as it might be.

In the midst of these battles, there seems be a growing dislike of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard by some of its early supporters. The program established the levels of renewable fuels to be blended into the nation's gasoline supply, thus giving rise to E10 fuel, which is available nationwide. As more is learned about the damaging effects on the environment and food industry that increased corn production creates, some people are reversing their positions.

For instance, former Rep. Henry Waxman from California, who supported the original RFS program, reportedly expressed his disappointment recently that it has failed to lead to the production of lower carbon, non-food based fuels.

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February 17, 2019, 11:18 pm PST

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