Letter to the Editor

Like consumer choice? Don’t back blend wall bill

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

If legislation was introduced that would prevent the latest iPhone from being sold and instead require users to return to the days of big brick phones and other technology relics, you’d be up in arms. Well, the same thing is being proposed when it comes to ethanol blends—and you still should be up in arms.

In May, biofuel critics Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.) introduced H.R. 5180, which would cap ethanol blends in the U.S. transportation pool to no more than 9.7 percent by volume. It’s a rather odd and precise number without any logic, other than it’s the percentage the oil companies want - keeping ethanol in the neat octane trimming box with which they’re comfortable. By adopting Big Oil’s biofuel limits, the bill would not just halt ethanol’s growth in providing a more affordable, high-octane source of fuel to consumers—it would retard that progress.

But ethanol already exceeds 10 percent of the fuel mix in at least 22 states, including California, Minnesota and South Dakota, where consumers have access to higher blends such as E15 and E85. Higher ethanol blends have had such rapid growth in recent years due to steady industry investment in an effort to provide for more choice at the pump.

If the bill was enacted into law, all of that progress—including cleaner air, greater energy security and cheaper gasoline prices—would evaporate. And all because oil companies want to continue to monopolize the transportation sector—just as they have done for more than 100 years.

The oil industry whines about a so-called blend wall even as they continue to build it themselves by denying consumer access to these higher ethanol blends. The renewable fuel standard was intended to break the stranglehold oil companies have on the motor fuel market by forcing access. This bill would gut the RFS and send America’s energy and climate change policy back decades.