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Sunshine State News: Common Sense Renewable Fuel Legislation Is at the Forefront

Saturday, September 17, 2016

By Ned Bowman

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) 2017 proposal suggests potential increases for higher ethanol blends in gasoline.

The RFS was originally intended to decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but over time the National Association of Clean Air Agencies discovered that it has produced higher emissions of nitrogen oxide and other harmful pollutants based on the lack of efficiency and how it processes when used.  John DeCicco, a research professor at University of Michigan’s Energy Institute said, according to Morning Consult reports, “he has found ethanol’s net emissions to be as much as 70 percent higher than traditional gasoline.”

Additionally, RFS requirements have been affecting the marketplace for many years now. We have seen increased costs to consumers in fuel and food, as well as increases in dedicated crop or land to produce ethanol. We have learned that ethanol blends higher than 10 percent could damage engines in motorcycles, boats, off-road vehicles, small-engine equipment and classic cars.

Meanwhile, the EPA RFS timeline projections have been so aggressive over the years that it has resulted in an inability for companies to comply with federal laws. And, the federal government has allowed lack of compliance due to the many unforeseen negative effects of increased ethanol requirements.

Thankfully, the Food and Fuel Consumer Protection Act, HR 5180, can help point us in the right direction and utilize market driven percentages to calculate how much ethanol should be mixed into gasoline. This legislation would put a cap on the maximum volume of ethanol blend into the transportation fuel supply. It requires the Energy Information Administration to determine the amount based on market demand from prior years and the current estimate would cap the requirement at 9.7 percent.

Florida U.S. Reps. Bill Posey, Lois Frankel and Gus Bilirakis already co-sponsor this great legislation. We are hopeful that other elected officials, including Reps. John Mica and Dennis Ross, also will also agree to be co-sponsors.

By the public supporting and elected officials co-sponsoring HR 5180, we are putting the focus back onto market utilization and therefore moving away from the inability to comply with the RFS and its 2017 projected plan, which could include the additional use of 85 percent ethanol and therefore further increase GHG emissions.

Each voter has tough decisions to make this election season and we should be able to rest easy knowing the elected officials representing us are supportive of forward-moving, positive and environmentally friendly policy changes, such as HR 5180. This good legislation will give the EPA RFS program the direction it needs, help keep our economy safe and our environment clean.

As you contact or speak to your U.S. elected officials, as well as those who are running for office, please remind them of this good policy change and that they should support HR 5180 moving forward.

Ned Bowman is executive director of Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association

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