E85 Boondoggle Of The Day: EPA Lets Corn-Free Ethanol Goal Slide
Since corn-based ethanol began coming under attack for a wide variety of negative environmental and social impacts, the renewable fuels industry has sought to cover the sins of its corn juice gravy train with a coat of “advanced biofuel” greenwash. Accordingly, the ethanol blending mandate (from the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA)) has included requirements for cellulosic and non-corn-derived biofuels which the industry says will replace corn… eventually. Unfortunately it seems that “eventually” is going to take longer than was expected, as the EPA has already slashed the 2010 mandate for advanced biofuel blending from 100m gallons to 6.5m gallons. And today the EPA announced rules for the 2011 advanced biofuel blending goal, and once again the non-corn fuels are getting the short end of the stick.
The new goal is as follows:
Biomass-based diesel (0.80 billion gallons; 0.68 percent)
Advanced biofuels (1.35 billion gallons; 0.77 percent)
Cellulosic biofuels (5 – 17.1 million gallons; 0.004 – 0.015 percent)
Total renewable fuels (13.95 billion gallons; 7.95 percent)
The new goal allows for a range of cellulosic biofuel production of between 5m gallons and 17.1m gallons. That means that it’s possible that next year’s cellulosic biofuel blending level could actually be lower than this year’s 6.5m target. The overall blending level for all renewable fuels next year is now set at 7.95 percent (13.95b gallons), down from 8.25 percent.
Why the reduction in renewable biofuel mandates, especially cellulosic ethanol which can be made from waste biomass? According to the EPA’s release
Based on analysis of market availability, EPA is proposing a 2011 cellulosic volume that is lower than the EISA target. EPA will continue to evaluate the market as it works to finalize the cellulosic standard in the coming months. Overall, EPA remains optimistic that the commercial availability of cellulosic biofuel will continue to grow in the years ahead.
Not that market demand (or lack thereof) has ever stopped the government from subsidizing corn-based ethanol. In fact, sales of E85 are so low that renewable f uel lobbyists worry that the so-called “blend wall” which prevents the blending of more than 10 percent ethanol in regular gasoline will hurt cellulosic and corn-based ethanol producers alike. But even the lobbyists from the Renewable Fuels Association admit that this drop in cellulosic biofuel blending goals will hurt the struggling industry, telling BusinessWeek
While this may be prudent for EPA based on market conditions, it does send a chilling effect through the investment community with respect to cellulosic ethanol technologies
And since the overall biofuel blending mandate hasn’t gone down, the cellulosic ethanol industry’s loss is the corn ethanol industry’s gain… even though the whole point of biofuel subsidies is to promote environmentally responsible options (weak demand hasn’t stopped subsidies for corn ethanol or electric cars). With 36b gallons of biofuel mandated by 2020 but no government support available for the struggling cellulosic and advanced biofuel industry, there’s little doubt but that corn ethanol will continue to benefit heavily from the EISA mandate. And until such time as renewable biofuels start receiving extra help (or the corn ethnaol industry is cut off from its flow of federal cheddar), the US will be no closer to a widely-available, environmentally-responsible gasoline alternative.
Join the conversation
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- Inside Looking Out This is actually the answer to the question I asked not that long ago.
- Inside Looking Out Regarding "narrow windows" - the trend is that windows will eventually be replaced by big OLED screens displaying some exotic place or may even other planet.
- Robert I have had 4th gen 1996 model for many years and enjoy driving as much now as when I first purchased it - has 190 hp variant with just the right amount of power for most all driving situations!
- ToolGuy Meanwhile in Germany...
- Donald More stuff to break god I love having a nanny in my truck... find a good tuner and you can remove most of the stupid stuff they add like this and auto park when the doors open stupid stuff like that
"...even though the whole point of biofuel subsidies is to promote environmentally responsible options..." The whole point of biofuel subsidies was to create a federal transfer payment to Big Agra and the farmbelt states. (This is why the U.S. puts heavy taxes on biofuel imports.) Secondary and incidental to the wholly political nature of the federal government's biofuel program, the environmentalist industry picked up on biofuel to help sell their larger agenda of eco-frauds to the public. They hitched their horses to anything that could be played up as green.
George, You realize Brazil doesn't have ethanol to export, right? They actually imported US ethanol in March.