Today, we divert more than 40 percent of our corn crops to ethanol. Further, government has been subsidizing “gasohol” for years. In 1979, the going rate was 40 cents per gallon of E10. And the final lesson is this: we’ve been hoping for cellulosic biofuels forever.
Corn ethanol is forcing its way into the marketplace and is likely increasing greenhouse gas emissions, according to the National Academy of Sciences. In fact, corn-based ethanol nearly doubles GHG emissions over 30 years and increases greenhouse gases for 167 years.
On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on the RFS in its Energy and Power Subcommittee to gain clarity — from government officials — on how the RFS is impacting the environment, our nation’s fuel supply and consumers.
For the RFS to succeed, two things have to happen in a relatively short span of time. First, retailers must be able to legally and affordably sell new fuels. Second, consumers need to accept and use the new fuels that will be required by the program.
The nation’s consumption of gasoline is falling and refiners say they can only replace 10 percent of their main gasoline blend with ethanol. Ten percent of the nation’s expected 2013 gasoline consumption 13.3 billion gallons, a volume of ethanol that would fall within the mandate this year.
This April, two separate bills were introduced in the US House of Representatives to reform, or repeal, the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that mandates how much ethanol and other biofuels must be blended into gasoline.
Tthe Renewable Fuels Standard uses a combination of Renewable Identification Numbers and Renewable Volume Obligations for proper implementation. The system involves consumers, blenders and now traders on the open market, but it all stems from the RFS.
Corn ethanol has been a costly disaster for farmers, food manufacturers, restaurants and other food retailers. What’s more, it is increasing the price of gas.
In 2007, Congress and President Bush passed a law mandating authorized the EPA to annually consult with the Energy Information Administration to project the amount of cellulosic ethanol that will be produced the next year. The EPA's projection would then be the mandated amount of cellulosic ethanol.
A presentation given by the EIA at a biofuels workshop in Washington, D.C. last week projects that even in 2040, the quantity of biofuel in the U.S. motor fuel market will be about 10 billion gallons lower than the 36 billion gallons per year required by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by 2022.
The problem is that EPA cannot forecast the amount of cellulosic ethanol correctly—or even closely. Further, EPA is likely to order an increased amount be purchased regardless of past failures in the hope that their mandated levels will mysteriously appear in the U.S. market.