Increases in the ethanol content of U.S. fuels have been delayed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a result of a regulatory freeze put in place by President Donald Trump.
The ethanol mandates under the Renewable Fuel Standard were issued in December. On Jan. 26, the EPA announced that the effective date had been pushed back from Feb. 10 to March 21. The RFS is one of 30 EPA rules affected.
Under the EPA rule, the amount of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply is scheduled to increase by 6.5 percent in 2017. The 2017 Renewable Volume Obligations are 19.28 billion gallons, up from 18.11 billion gallons in 2016.
The increase comes despite the fact that it exceeds the blend wall by hundreds of millions of gallons. The blend wall is the point at which no more ethanol can be blended without forcing consumers to use higher blends, such as E15, E30 and E85.
Since no motorcycles or all-terrain vehicles are approved by the EPA to use blends higher than E10, the EPA mandate increases the risk of inadvertent misfueling that could lead to engine or fuel-system damage and void manufacturers’ warranties.
The increased reliance on corn-based ethanol also could further reduce the amount of E0 fuel available. Since the distribution network for E15 and E85 is limited, fuel producers may be forced to reduce E0 output to stay within the RVO rule, leaving owners of older and vintage motorcycles without a reliable fuel supply.
The AMA strongly opposed the EPA’s plan to raise the ethanol mandate when it was announced in May 2016 and again chastised the EPA in November when the final rule was announced.
The AMA is working with Congress to amend the Renewable Fuel Standard to resolve the ethanol issue, including requesting that Congress review the RFS under the 1996 Congressional Review Act.