Senators Wrangle Over Mid-Blends of Ethanol

Inside EPA (subscription required) reported that Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) renewed his efforts to allow EPA to take longer than 180 days to consider requests for waivers from fuel related provisions of the Clean Air Act. This is intended to allow EPA to take its time considering waivers such as MN's pending request to be allowed to sell blends of ethanol and gasoline between the 10% and 85% blends currently approved. Current law approves waivers by default if EPA does not act within 180 day.

As I've written about before blends between E10 and E85 raise public health concerns, threaten ethanol with a serious consumer backlash, and are a distraction from making a serious step away from oil.

Interestingly, Sen. Reed (D-RI) has introduced a similar bill as have Sen. Cardin (D-MD) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. DeMint (R-SC) sponsored another similar amendment earlier this year. EPW Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who has called the effort a "good government" amendment, and the amendment is supported by a bunch of industry groups, NRDC and ALA. In a joint letter with ALA, we told Inhofe and Reed that the amendment was "important to assure such fuels do not degrade today's vehicle and other engine emissions-related performance and emissions control equipment."

But despite all this, the amendment has been block on the Senate side (a House version seems to be moving ahead) by MN Sen. Klobuchar (D) and is at least opposed by MN Sen. Coleman (R). No doubt with plenty of behind the scenes support from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). But as long as it goes ahead in the House, it will be an issue for conference, so we're still hopeful.

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