As described in our March 10 article, it is generally accepted that fuel companies hit the so-called blending wall this past winter, a situation where EPA blending mandates cannot be fulfilled, even if every drop of gasoline contains 10% ethanol by volume. This has unleashed the unintended consequence of RIN (Renewable Identification Number) speculation, as described in this article from the oil industry newsletter Platts.
While oil producers and various industry and consumer groups such as the Aviation Fuel Club have been calling on Congress for the past several years to repeal the RFS2 ethanol mandates that are a consequence of the EISA 2007 Act, now even the nation’s third-largest producer of ethanol, Valero, has asked Congress to scrap the entire law and start over.
As described in the Des Moines Register, “Bill Klesse, chief executive of Valero Energy Corp., told a Senate panel that the Renewable Fuel Standard — an eight-year-old law that requires refiners to produce alternative fuels to help reduce the country’s dependence on foreign energy — is ‘out of control’ and needs to be overhauled to better reflect today’s marketplace…With not enough gallons of fuel available to blend all the ethanol required, refiners are forced to buy these credits to comply with the law. RIN prices have soared to a record, topping $1.30 per gallon this week, from a few cents earlier in the year.”
Not only aviators prefer an ethanol-free choice. The website Pure-Gas.org, the best list of retail sellers of ethanol-free fuel, just passed through the 7,000 mark, little more than six months since it reached 6,000.
With pressure mounting from consumers, industry groups, those concerned about the negative influence of ethanol production on third-world food prices and now even the ethanol producers themselves, how much longer can Congress ignore the need for the obvious, scrapping this obsolete and market-distorting law? An end to ethanol mandates would eliminate the added cost of RINs, greatly expand the availability of aviation-grade mogas and assure future supplies of an FAA-approved, lower-cost, lead-free alternative to 100LL.
It would be great to have our own aviation advocacy groups weigh in on this important issue. If any of our readers include the leaders of the EAA, AOPA, GAMA, NATA, and the NBAA, why not have your D.C. office add its name to the growing list of those calling for a repeal? Perhaps one day we’ll finally see mogas available at Oshkosh, where it was first approved by the FAA 31 years ago and could power the vast majority of aircraft that make the annual aerial trek to EAA AirVenture, taking place this year from July 29-Aug. 4.