The House Energy and Commerce Committee this week released its first in a series of white papers that the committee leaders say will examine a number of issues examining the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).
Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and ranking member Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) said in a statement that the white paper represents the launch of a bipartisan review of the RFS and issues "emerging with the current system," and offers an opportunity to solicit input from interested stakeholders.
"It has been more than five years since the RFS was last revised, and we now have a wealth of actual implementation experience with it," the white paper states. "In some respects, the RFS has unfolded as expected, but in others it has not. Several implementation challenges have emerged that received little if any consideration prior to passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Furthermore, the overall energy landscape has changed since 2007. It is time to undertake an assessment of the RFS."
The white paper addresses the "blend wall, the point at which adding the required volume of ethanol to gasoline supplies would result in ethanol blends that exceed 10 percent, which is the maximum ethanol content approved for sale for use in all vehicles." (EPA has approved the use of E15 in cars and light trucks built since 2001.)
"As gasoline demand has declined in recent years, and ethanol targets have continued to rise, the blend wall is approaching much faster than anticipated," the paper states. "The required volumes of ethanol as set by the RFS must now be added to a smaller-than-expected pool of gasoline, and many experts predict the 10 percent blend wall may be reached as soon as this year. While blends containing up to 10 percent ethanol (E-10) have long been used, refiners may need to start producing E-15 to stay in compliance."
The approaching blend wall raises a number of issues for producers, refiners, auto manufacturers, and fuel retailers, the committee said in a statement issued with the white paper.
In addition to the white paper, the committee has posed a number of questions and asked stakeholders to submit response to those questions by April 5.
To access a copy of the white paper and read a list of the questions for stakeholder comment, along with instructions on how to respond, click HERE.