There is both good and bad news about ethanol use in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is still making it a requirement that gasoline refineries not only put ethanol into the mix, but that they still increase how much they have been adding each year. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, the amount of the ethanol increases is being downgraded from what was previously required by law. While it doesn’t mean the complete annihilation of ethanol in the country’s fuel supply, it’s a silver lining in an otherwise unpleasant situation.
Back in 2007, Congress established a renewable fuel standard for the country that calls for a gradual increase of biofuel such as ethanol. The law set a final goal of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel added to gasoline, with a final deadline of 2022.
Quite a few drivers in the United States absolutely detest ethanol being added to gasoline, as do a number of advocacy groups. There are many arguments against its use, even in small doses. Among them is the assertion that the practice cuts into the useful food supply in the country.
According to the report, the reduction in biofuels being required by the EPA have been driven more by the market than anything else. Biofuels other than ethanol have become hard to come by, while other market shifts have made the original targets established by Congress too difficult to hit for right now, at least that’s what the EPA is saying.
For now, nobody really knows what’s going to happen with ethanol and other biological additives in the fuel supply. Come November of 2015, the EPA could establish a long-term commitment to reduce the blend, which would continue the deviation from the prescribed path Congress provided.
It’s possible that once the new president is in office, things will change. Already, Hillary Clinton has been saying that she’ll push to put the biofuel standards “back on track.” Other candidates haven’t spoken out on the issue, but that could change in the near future.