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March 22, 2013

House Committee Launches Bipartisan Review of Renewable Fuel Standard

Lynn L. Bergeson

This week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee released the first of five bipartisan white papers that explore important policy implications related to continued implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The white papers are intended to solicit input and stimulate debate in several areas:  infrastructure, fuel compatibility, blending, economics, and environmental issues. Each paper will provide a detailed policy analysis on one area and then outline a series of questions intended to engage key stakeholders on that issue.

This first white paper, The Blend Wall and Fuel Compatibility Issues, focuses on one of the most pressing and complicated policy challenges facing proponents and opponents of biofuels. The paper recognizes a changed fuels refining environment from 2007, where fuel demand has fallen dramatically and 10 percent ethanol blends (the conventional ethanol blend percentage) are rapidly approaching saturation in the fuel pool. It discusses various aspects of mid-level ethanol blends (E15, E85), which have the ability to introduce higher volumes of biofuels than conventional blend levels. Some key questions posed at the end of the white paper for biofuels stakeholders relate to the feasibility of mid-level ethanol blends, the marketing and mis-fueling challenges to mid-level blends, the economics of the Blend Wall, and the intersection of new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) vehicle standards and the RFS. The Committee asks stakeholders to respond to the first paper by April 5, 2013.