PICKERINGTON, Ohio - The proposed 2017 Renewable Fuel Standard volume requirements announced today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would increase the mandated amount of ethanol in the nation's fuel supply chain, despite a low demand for higher ethanol blends and an inadequate distribution and sales network, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.
The EPA's proposed Renewable Volume Obligations call for 18.8 billion gallons of biofuel for 2017, up from 18.11 billion gallons this year. The obligations for 2015 were 16.93 billion gallons.
The AMA opposes any increase in the Renewable Volume Obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard.
"Even though the total obligations are lower than the statutory requirements, the EPA is creating an untenable situation for the marketplace and raising the risk to motorcyclists and ATV owners," said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations. "The country is not on track to meet the 2016 standards, and the distribution network can't absorb any more ethanol. The consumer demand simply is not there."
Of the 18.8 billion gallons of biofuels proposed for 2017, 14.4 billion gallons would be the conventional for corn ethanol. Of the remainder, 4 billion gallons would be advanced biofuels, 2 billion gallons would be biomass-based diesel and 312 million gallons would be cellulosic.
But because of the Renewable Volume Obligation restrictions, the corn ethanol amount could rise as high as 14.8 billion.
The Congressional statute calls for 15 billion gallons of conventional biofuels in 2017.
"Increasing the amount of ethanol in our fuel supply, coupled with America's decreasing demand for gasoline, is going to result in higher-ethanol blends, such as E15, at more pumps and stations," Allard said. "The widespread availability of E15 and higher-ethanol fuels increases the risk that owners will inadvertently misfuel their motorcycles."
E15 fuel is a blend of 85 percent gasoline and 15 percent ethanol and represents a 50 percent increase in ethanol over the common E10 blend most Americans currently use in their vehicles.
None of the estimated 22 million motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles in use in the United States is approved by the EPA to operate on ethanol blends higher than 10 percent. Using higher-ethanol blends in those vehicles is illegal and may cause engine and fuel system damage and void the manufacturer's warranty.
By again increasing the amount of ethanol in America's gasoline, the EPA will further strain the fuel marketplace by exceeding 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.
The AMA also is concerned the increased reliance on corn ethanol 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.
The proposed 2017 rule can be found here: https://www.epa.gov/renewable-fuel-standard-program/proposed-renewable-fuel-standards-2017-and-biomass-based-diesel. The official comment period is open until July 11.