US ethanol industry opposes Congress initiatives

07 February 2012 23:31  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) on Tuesday said it opposed two bills in Congress dealing with ethanol regulation.

The RFA said it opposed HR 3199, which requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to coordinate with the National Academy of Sciences to study gasoline blends with 15% ethanol (E15) before such fuels may be approved for consumer use.

The bill by Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (Republican–Wisconsin) was passed on Tuesday by the House Science Committee.

“When it comes to a decision of this magnitude that would impact every American who owns a car, boat, or lawnmower, we must base our decisions on sound science, not political expediency, Sensenbrenner said. 

Sensenbrenner added that in small engines, E15 is dangerous and the EPA has no credible plan to stop mis-fueling. 

RFA president and chief executive Bob Dinneen said the legislation would stall greater ethanol use without a good reason.

“Understandably, concerns will be raised any time a new fuel is introduced,” Dinneen said. “The concerns raised, however, are largely superficial and do not require the intervention of Congress to resolve.” 

Dinneen added that the bill would reverse the progress private industry has already achieved with renewable fuels and threatens the job creation that would stem from an increased use of domestic renewable fuels.

The RFA also voiced opposition to a bill that it said was misguided attempt to recognise fossil fuels as a renewable fuel and to eliminate the renewable fuels standard (RFS).

Representative Pete Olson (Republican-Texas), recently introduced the House Bill 3773, the Domestic Alternative Fuels Act of 2012. The measure would modify the renewable fuel standard to include ethanol and other fuels produced from fossil fuels, like natural gas.

RFA director of public affairs Matt Hartwig said, “It is simply lunacy to suggest that a fossil fuel belongs in any sort of renewable energy policy in the country.”

Hartwig said the bill “may be little more than a Trojan horse attempt to try to open up the Renewable Fuels Standard on Capitol Hill with the ultimate goal being to repeal it completely."

Hartwig said trying to modify the RFS does not make sense because it is a programme that is already working and does not need to be changed.

"It used to be that nearly two out of every three barrels of oil America used we had to get from somebody else,” Hartwig said. “Today that number is below 50% and will continue to fall as long as the country continues to focus on expanding renewable fuel production."

Olson’s bill was endorsed by petrochemical producer Celanese, which has developed a process to produce ethanol from natural gas or coal by using acetic acid as an intermediary.

Unlike ethanol made from corn, ethanol made from natural gas or coal does not qualify as a renewable fuel in the US.

By: Brian Balboa
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