NMMA backs proposal on ethanol reduction

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The National Marine Manufacturers Association was among several groups acknowledging that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to temporarily lower the levels of ethanol in the fuel supply is an important step, but they also say Congress must act to change or repeal the law that requires an increased reliance on biofuels in the United States.

The EPA is asking for public comment on the proposal it issued Friday that would reduce the levels of renewable fuels to be blended into gasoline and diesel as required by Congress in 2007 under the Energy Independence and Security Act’s Renewable Fuel Standard.

“While today’s announcement marks an important step, there is a lot more to be done,” NMMA legislative director John McKnight said during a conference call with reporters on Friday. “We see we have serious well-documented, data-driven concerns with the safety of high-ethanol fuel blends, which have been proven to cause damage in marine engines.”

That damage puts consumers at risk and hurts manufacturers during this economic recovery, McKnight said.

“We know that the RFS is a broken law that sets unrealistic fuel mandates and requires a long-term fix from Congress,” McKnight said. “The NMMA strongly encourages Congress to fix issues of RFS immediately through legislation in order to protect consumers and U.S. manufacturers.”

Developed with input from the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture, the proposal seeks public comment on annual volume requirements for renewable fuels in all motor vehicle gasoline and diesel fuel produced or imported by the United States in 2014, the EPA said.

The proposal seeks to put the Renewable Fuel Standard program on a steady path forward — ensuring the continued long-term growth of the renewable fuel industry — while seeking advice on different approaches to address the “E10 blend wall.”

“Biofuels are a key part of the Obama administration’s “all of the above” energy strategy, helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, cut carbon pollution and create jobs,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement. “We have made great progress in recent years, and EPA continues to support the RFS goal of increasing biofuel production and use. We look forward to working with all stakeholders to develop a final rule that maintains the strength and promise of the RFS program.”

The proposal discusses a variety of approaches for setting the 2014 standards and includes a number of production and consumption ranges for key categories of biofuel covered by the RFS program. The proposal seeks comment on a range of total renewable fuel volumes for 2014 and proposes a level within that range of 15.21 billion gallons.

Once the proposal is published in the Federal Register, it will be open to a 60-day public comment period.

— Reagan Haynes

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