Here’s an update on recent news items and other public policy developments during the last few weeks relating to the use and market acceptance of 15% blends of ethanol into gasoline (“E15″) and other higher blends of ethanol such as E85, including specific updates on actions in several U.S. state legislatures that I reported on in a post on May 23.
Florida Governor signs bill to repeal the state’s Renewable Fuel Standard. As previously reported, the Florida legislature passed House Bill 4001, a bill that would repeal the requirement that gasoline sold in Florida be blended with 10% ethanol. On May 31, Governor Rick Scott signed the bill. Although the new law removes the previous blending mandate, it does not prohibit the sale of E10 or higher blends, and so the bill is expected to have minimal effect since essentially all the nation’s gasoline supply is currently blended with up to 10% ethanol. This bill had been opposed by the biofuel industry, including companies such as INEOS and Algenol who are located in Florida, and in response to the signing of the bill, Algenol’s CEO reiterated the company’s intent to investigate other locations for its planned first commercial facility.
Maine legislation. As previously reported, the Maine legislature continues to debate bills that would hinder the sale of gasoline-ethanol blends in the state. On May 23, the state Senate unanimously passed a version of the previously-killed bill LD 115, amended to specify that sales of cornstarch-based ethanol would be prohibited in Maine if similar bans were to be adopted in at least 10 other states with a collective population of 30 million. Prospects for full passage are not known.
A hearing was held in the Illinois House on a proposed bill that would trade the 20% sales tax break currently available for sales of E10 ethanol blends for a 10% tax break on E15 sales. Advocates on both sides of the debate presented their positions at this hearing. As previously reported, this bill has been pending in the state legislature for some time, and proponents are hoping for action before the legislature ends its current session.
In Iowa, a State Senate committee voted on May 17 to retain the advantaged tax status of ethanol blends (19 cents per gallon) relative to unblended gasoline (21 cents per gallon). Also in Iowa, the full legislature passed a bill, H.F. 640, on May 23 that guarantees that local retailers retain the right to offer ethanol and biodiesel blends of its choice, said to be protection against clauses in the supply agreements between retailers and refiners that might restrict such choice.
EPA files brief with Supreme Court on E15 ruling. The U.S. Solicitor General has filed a brief on behalf of the EPA on the lawsuit that has challenged EPA’s waivers under the Clean Air Act which have granted approval for E15 ethanol blends. As previously reported, three industry groups including the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers had filed a petition with the Supreme Court asking the Court to overturn an Appeals Court decision that the groups did not have legal standing to challenge EPA’s actions allowing E15 to be sold in the U.S. The government’s brief stresses the Appeals Court’s decision of the industry group’s lack of standing and states that the groups have not highlighted any flaws in the ruling of the Appeals Court. There is no definitive timetable on the Supreme Court’s decision of whether or not to hear the case; should they decide not to do so, the Appeals Court ruling in favor of EPA would stand.
Previous Biofuel Policy Watch posts on ethanol policy:
- May 23, 2013 (State Legislative Update)
- May 1, 2013
- April 10, 2013
- March 19, 2013
- February 26, 2013
- February 5, 2013
- January 17, 2013
- January 11, 2013
D. Glass Associates, Inc. is a consulting company specializing in government and regulatory support for renewable fuels and industrial biotechnology. David Glass, Ph.D. is a veteran of over thirty years in the biotechnology industry, with expertise in industrial biotechnology regulatory affairs, U.S. and international renewable fuels regulation, patents, technology licensing, and market and technology assessments. Dr. Glass also serves as director of regulatory affairs for Joule Unlimited Technologies, Inc. More information on D. Glass Associates’ government and regulatory consulting capabilities, and copies of some of Dr. Glass’s prior presentations on biofuels and biotechnology regulation, are available at www.slideshare.net/djglass99 and at www.dglassassociates.com. The views expressed in this blog are those of Dr. Glass and D. Glass Associates and do not represent the views of Joule Unlimited Technologies, Inc. or any other organization with which Dr. Glass is affiliated. Please visit our other blog, Advanced Biotechnology for Biofuels.