Congressmen push fuel-standard reform

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Two members of Congress are seeking co-sponsors on a bill that would reform the Renewable Fuel Standard Act, the law that requires an increasing amount of ethanol in the overall fuel supply.

In a recent letter to the Florida delegation, Reps. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., and Jose “Joe” Garcia, D-Fla., are asking colleagues to sign on to the RFS Reform Act of 2013, or H.R. 1462, as co-sponsors.

Passed in 2007, the intent of the fuel standard was to improve the country’s energy security and overall air quality by requiring that increased volumes of biofuels be blended annually into gasoline through 2022, the letter says.

“While these mandates were well intentioned, there have been unforeseen consequences that have significantly impacted and raised concern among a broad range of stakeholders, including anti-hunger and international aid groups, Florida farmers, restaurant owners, car, boat and small engine manufacturers, refiners and environmentalists alike,” the letter says.

The letter outlined three concerns of the bill. The blend wall, the point most often associated with engine damage to some cars, all boats and other small engines, was the final point listed.

“There is growing concern that the current U.S. vehicle fleet, including automobiles and boats, as well as the retail gasoline infrastructure, cannot absorb or operate undamaged under the increasingly higher volumes of biofuel blending required by the RFS,” the letter says. “Unfortunately, damage from higher volumes of biofuels in gasoline [is] not covered in the warranties for most U.S. automobiles, boats and small engines, leaving Floridians at increased personal financial risk as a result of property damage.”

Competition between food and fuel is increasing because the RFS consumes about 40 percent of U.S. corn production, the letter stated. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study estimated that fuel standard requirements will increase corn-based ethanol production demand by at least 6 billion gallons by 2015, resulting in a 26.8 percent increase in corn prices. That has caused increased prices of pork, poultry, eggs, milk and beef.

Environmental degradation was a second concern listed, citing a study by the Environmental Working Group that said cutting corn-based ethanol used to meet RFS standards by 1.39 billion gallons would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2 million tons.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association, which discussed the move in a recent newsletter, is supporting the bill.

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