Committee Launches Bipartisan Review of Renewable Fuel Standard with White Paper Examining “Blend Wall” Challenges

March 20, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – Launching a bipartisan review of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the House Energy and Commerce Committee today released its first in a series of white papers that will examine a number of issues emerging with the current system and solicit input from interested stakeholders. Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), and other members of the committee are leading the effort to review the law and its implementation.

“It has been more than five years since the RFS was last revised, and we now have a wealth of actual implementation experience with it,” the white paper explains. “In some respects, the RFS has unfolded as expected, but in others it has not. Several implementation challenges have emerged that received little if any consideration prior to passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Furthermore, the overall energy landscape has changed since 2007. It is time to undertake an assessment of the RFS.”

The white paper released today addresses the so-called “blend wall,” the point at which adding the required volume of ethanol to gasoline supplies would result in ethanol blends that exceed 10 percent, which is the maximum ethanol content approved for sale for use in all vehicles. As gasoline demand has declined in recent years, and ethanol targets have continued to rise, the blend wall is approaching much faster than anticipated. The required volumes of ethanol as set by the RFS must now be added to a smaller-than-expected pool of gasoline, and many experts predict the 10 percent blend wall may be reached as soon as this year. While blends containing up to 10 percent ethanol (E-10) have long been used, refiners may need to start producing E-15 to stay in compliance.

The approaching blend wall raises a number of issues for producers, refiners, auto manufacturers, and fuel retailers. The white paper examines these issues and poses a number of questions for discussion. The committee is requesting interested stakeholders to send responses to these questions by April 5, 2013.

To view a copy of the white paper, a list of questions for stakeholder comment, and instructions to respond, click HERE.

###