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Members of Congress ask EPA to revise ethanol mandates

The letter, sent to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, cites “significant concern” about ethanol proposals for 2016.

The U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter signed by 184 bipartisan members to the Environmental Protection Agency calling for revisions to ethanol mandates.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association, as part of the Smarter Fuel Future Coalition, says the group is encouraged by the growing number of elected officials who are “becoming aware of the flawed nature of the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

The letter, sent to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, cites “significant concern” about ethanol proposals for 2016 because they will breach the ethanol “blend wall.”

The blend wall refers to the maximum amount of ethanol in fuel that can be tolerated by all engines — which is E10, or 10 percent ethanol.

Because the RFS, as written in 2007, has the amount of ethanol flatly increasing —despite a large unanticipated drop in fuel demand — increasing the amount of ethanol blended into the supply will cause blends to increase to E15 and higher, critics say.

“In 2007, the market assumptions regarding the future of transportation fuels in the United States were very different from the realities of the market today,” the letter stated.

Increased engine fuel efficiency has led to shrinking gasoline demand, which has “exacerbated the onset of the blend wall — the point at which the gasoline supply is saturated with the maximum amount of ethanol that the current vehicle fleet, marine and other small engines and refueling infrastructure can safely accommodate,” the letter said.

“Congress will continue its work toward a bipartisan solution to deal with the RFS. As this work continues, it is critical that EPA use its statutory authority to waive [the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007’s] conventional biofuel volume to keep the blending requirements below the E10 blend wall and to limit the economic and consumer harm this program has already caused.”

In June the EPA proposed increasing the amount of ethanol required in the overall fuel supply, although it lowered the amounts required by the Clean Air Act, angering both critics and supporters of ethanol.

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