According tone of its officials, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants to lift the ethanol use in gasoline even as it is still lowering the consumption target for the fuel from a 2007 energy law.
Back at the end of May, the EPA said in its initial proposal that it would compel the use of 13.4 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol this year and 14 billion the next, lowering the target from 15 billion for the two years, as it was defined back in 2007. According to Chris Grundler, director of EPA’s office of transportation and air quality, who spoke at a hearing on Thursday in Kansas City, not lowering the level would be “irresponsible” and lead to “widespread non-compliance” by refiners. Ethanol industry lobbyists said they were disappointed by the new proposal that should be finalized by November 30. Meanwhile, the petroleum industry advocates called the program to be shut down or deeply restructured, with advisers calling it “fundamentally unworkable” at the hearing. The EPA has been tracing compliance of the biofuel usage by attaching tradable certificates to the gallon.
The EPA mandate to use biofuel has been established as a way to fight the increased dependence on imported oil in America, though in recent years the petroleum industry gained massive traction on a local level thanks to deposits of shale fuel. Now, refiners are producing at the highest usage rates and even export the fuels, while US motorists are clocking miles at rates not seen since before the great Recession.