It looks like ethanol – especially when blended into gasoline – is facing some pushback. Florida has decided to repeal its Renewable Fuel Standard, which had required all gasoline sold in the state to be blended with nine-to-10 percent ethanol or other alternative fuels.

Florida Governor Rick Scott just signed into law HB4001, which repeals the state's Renewable Fuel Standard as of July 1, 2013. The bill was passed by the Florida House and Senate in April. The Florida Renewable Fuel Standard Act took effect December 31, 2011 and required all gasoline sold by terminal suppliers, importers, blenders or wholesalers (i.e., those up the supply chain) to be blended. These parties were also required to submit a monthly report to the Department of Revenue on the numbers of gallons of blended and unblended gasoline sold. Retail gas stations had not been expressly prohibited by state law from selling or offering unblended gasoline, Green Car Congress reports.

In his signing statement, Scott called the state's Renewable Fuel Standard, "a state mandate on Florida businesses that is duplicative of the Federal Renewable Fuel Standard and inconsistent with the efforts to reduce the regulatory burdens that have helped Florida create over 330,000 new private sector jobs in the past two years."

The state of Maine is going in a similar anti-ethanol direction. Legislators are concerned about the damaging impact ethanol blend going up to 15 percent in gasoline (E15) could have on engines and the environment. They approved a bill by more than a 3-to-1 margin that would ban ethanol blends in Maine, as long as two other nearby states do the same. State leaders also supported a resoltion asking the government to ban E15 altogether.

On the federal level, support is still there for E15 from the US Environmental Protection Agency. States are being slow about supporting the transition from E10 to E15, but Kansas and a few other states have adopted it. Bob Dineen, president and CEO of Renewable Fuels Association, says it's Big Oil that's attacking E15 and fulfillment of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard's targets for biofuels – just to sell more gasoline.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 38 Comments
      • 1 Year Ago
      Finally there is a politician who has some smarts and recognizes that ethanol is a big political lie. It never did what we were told it would do, reduce pollution and extend the gasoline supply. In fact the ethanol blended gasoline reduced MPGs by about 10%. The manufacturing of ethanol consumer more BTUs of fuel then what was contained in the ethanol produced. It was never an extender of fuel.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Well, being a Fla resident, I hope this means the non blend will come back soon. There's a small station in Daytona Bch selling the non blend currently for $4.75 / gallon ( I'm not paying that!!!)
      raktmn
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is nothing like the Maine ban on E15. The Maine ban takes something that was already 100% a free choice for the driver to choose, and banned those drivers from making that choice for themselves. There was never any E15 mandate. Quite the opposite, the mandate is that any gas station that offers E15 is mandated to have at least one pump that only dispenses E10 or lower gas, always assuring that customers would have the free choice to use E15 or not. Maine's law took away the choice to use E15 from people who already were free to choose it or not.
        omni007
        • 1 Year Ago
        @raktmn
        Yep. Just proves there is no such thing as a free market.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @omni007
          Not here in the USA. Can't even convert a car to another fuel without going through hoops often too narrow to fit through. EV might be the easiest with the least amount of hoops to deal with.. My buddy is still pissed about his CNG conversion shop being shut down by the EPA, no reason was given.
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @omni007
          2WM -- No reason given to you at least. All EPA actions are all subject to multiple layers of appeal, both internally and externally from the EPA. Reasons absolutely were provided, or your buddy would have instantly won at the Compliance Assistance level of EPA enforcement before even being told to shut down. All civil enforcement must go through this process first before the EPA can seek Injunctive Relief (shut his business down). And the EPA cannot get Injunctive Relief and force a company to cease and desist without a Civil Judicial Action done through a US court. The only other way for your buddy to be shut down, would be if your buddy voluntarily entered a consent agreement to shut down without appealing anything because he knew he was in violation. I'm not calling you a liar, but your buddy isn't telling you the whole truth. What was his Facility name, state and city of operation? I can look up the action on the EPA's ECHO compliance case history system. All actions of the EPA are public record. The only exception is criminal cases that are resolved out of court by the accused person admitting his criminal guilt, but assisting the EPA convict someone else higher up in a larger criminal enterprise in exchange for a closed record (being a narc).
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @omni007
          There definitely is not a free market for ethanol fuels in the US. You cannot legally build or sell a car that runs on pure ethanol, or convert a car to run on pure ethanol. It is illegal for gas stations (or anyone) to sell pure ethanol as fuel for any car or for any combustion engine anywhere in the US. It is a crime to fill your own car with your own 100% ethanol that you distill yourself. The only way ethanol can legally be sold in the US for automobiles, is if it is first mixed with at least 15% gasoline in the summer, 30% gasoline in the winter, and then only put in gas cars certified to be flex fuel vehicles. It cracks me up when straight gas proponents go crazy about not being able to choose what fuel they want because 10% of their fuel is ethanol, when folks who want to burn ethanol are mandated by law to burn 15-30% gasoline.
          EVnerdGene
          • 1 Year Ago
          @omni007
          EPA = American Gestapo
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      Aren't there EPA requirements that mandate some type of oxygenation additive? (Which ethanol provides.)
        raktmn
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        Spec, I think you are referring to EPA420-B-08-006 that mandates oxygenated fuels just in states and regions where these states/regions have had a history of violating clean air standards. There is no national mandate for oxygenated fuel. Oxygenated fuel is only mandated bye the EPA in the states and/or regions where oxygenated fuel has been shown (proven by hard science and empirical evidence) to be effective at reducing smog. Once states attain passing air quality standards, they go into maintenance mode, and are allowed to change their oxygenated fuel mandate as long as they stay within compliance. Florida is not among the states that were mandated to use oxygenated fuels.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        What about the octane booster? Isn't that what MTBE was used for, and lead earlier on, and currently the 10% ethanol does that.. ( though i'm not sure if you really need 10% of the fuel to be ethanol to get that octane boost.. )
          raktmn
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          2WM -- The oxygenated fuel requirement, and the use of ethanol as an octane booster are two separate things under the law. There is no legal requirement to specifically use ethanol as an octane booster. They can use octane boosters that are refined from crude oil, such as an Isomerate, isooctane, toluene, etc. This is where all octane boosters came from in the old days. But here things get more complicated. Many oil-based octane boosters are too volatile to meet Reformulated gasoline standards that are in some states. So most reformulated gas (RFG) uses ethanol to meet all three requirements at the same time. The ethanol meets the oxygenated gas standards for oxygenates. The ethanol when mixed with fuel stabilizers meets the RFG standards. And it helps bring the low octane "BOB" (Blendstock for Oxygenate Blending which is commonly 81-84 octane) up to 85/87 octane minimum standards for automotive fuel in the US. Another factor is that ethanol is now the cheapest octane booster that refineries can get. It is cheaper than taking oil and refining it into high octane compounds. So most refineries choose it as their first choice for increasing octane, and use as little of the petroleum-based octane boosters as they can.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Excellent response! You seem to know your stuff. Thanks.
      Rob Mahrt
      • 1 Year Ago
      I am not an expert on the, but in the book I mention, and again it is slightly outdated and corn prices were much lower at the time, the following is stated when speaking of Ethanol: Paraphrasing: "In fact, in 2008 the tota U.S. subsidy for ethanol was $6 billion. However, the increased production of Ethanol lead to an estimated 15% reduction in overall fuel prices, which saved the U.S. consumer $60 billion" I will not disagree that there are better domestic fuels. But, the goal should be to increase all of them, no? And if this one is the most widely used, and is already in law to be used, promotion should be continued if the above statement in a fact.
      Rob Mahrt
      • 1 Year Ago
      From what I understand, there is no national law stating that ethanol blend is required in all fuel. If this is true, and Florida will not longer need to blend, this is not good news. Read "Turning Oil into Salt". By average imports of oil 2008-2012 ~4.28 billion barrels. Without E15 it seems that number would be 4.92 billion. At an average cost of $77.54 2008-2012 (much lower than today), that is $381 billion saved from exiting this country by using E15. Much more goes into it, like the price of ethanol vs gasoline, but a negative trade imbalance is detrimental to the national economy and removing this stnadard can only increase the imbalance.
        raktmn
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rob Mahrt
        That is correct, there is no federal law stating that every gallon of gas must contain ethanol. Under the current laws, having Floridians buy less E10/E15/E85 will not impact how much total ethanol is required to be sold in the USA. It will just have to be sold elsewhere. So what Florida does alone will not change our import imbalance. The current RFS mandate means that the same amount of ethanol will need to be sold in the US in total no matter how much is sold in Florida. The impact will be that Floridians will have to pay higher gas prices for straight gas in order to pay their fair share for their externalities for reducing our oil import imbalance, and for GHG gas reductions. People should be paying for their externalities, so this is how it should work. (I can cover in a separate post how this will play out in the free market if you have any questions)
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rob Mahrt
        But it seems like the only way to make ethanol price competitive is to take money from the taxpayer to subsidize it multiple times. Even then, it ends up being just about the cost of gasoline, as reported here: http://e85prices.com/ There are better domestic fuels out there, if it's the trade imbalance that worries you most.
        Rob Mahrt
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rob Mahrt
        2nd paragraph supposed to state: "By my calculations average imports"...
      bluepongo1
      • 1 Year Ago
      http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/the-us-has-little-to-no-chance-of-meeting-its-ethanol-production-targets <====< This could have something to do with the bigger picture. Food vs. fuel ... bad idea.
        raktmn
        • 1 Year Ago
        @bluepongo1
        Bluepongo -- If you are talking about meeting the current RFS requirements for selling ethanol, that issue is already covered under existing law. The RFS caps out total corn/sugar cane/sorghum ethanol sales in the US at 15 billion gallons, up from our current yearly sales of 13.3 billion gallons last year. Sales above 15 billion gallons are required to come from non-crop sources, such as Cellulosic ethanol and other advanced biofuels. http://www.afdc.energy.gov/laws/RFS It seems that you are missing a key piece of the history of ethanol as a fuel. For decades the biggest problem with corn in the US was huge stockpiles of corn, and the gov't having to pay billions to pay farmers NOT to grow corn in their fields. We are talking entire silo's completely full of #2 dried field corn sitting for years. It wasn't Food vs. fuel, that corn was never going to go to food, it was being dumped to rot or burned, while paying farmers to not farm was taking money away from other gov't programs like food stamps that actually could have been used to feed people. So let's fix that equation. It was not Food vs. Fuel, the decision was between Waste vs. Fuel. It was a complete no brainer. And guess what! It worked! We are now spending less on paying farmers to not grow crops, and our corn surplus is measured in terms of months worth of supply instead of years or decades worth of oversupply that was going to waste. Here are the hard numbers. Currently we have a 5.4 billion bushel supply of corn in storage going into the corn growing season, and in a typical year we will produce 11-13 billion bushels. So we have a roughly 5 month or so supply stored up. This is good. This is healthy. This corn won't end up being dumped to rot or burned to get rid of it. The RFS targets represent what has been calculated to be the right balance to solve the Waste vs. Fuel problem. The RFS even has a safety valve built into the regulation where if our corn supplies dip too low, they can issue a waiver on ethanol sales numbers. So which do you think is a better use of our corn and our tax dollars? 1) Leave the overproduction of corn to rot, like before E10, and pay more for farmers not to farm 2) Use that corn that would have rotted to make fuel, and pay less for farmers not to farm. That is the choice. It is not a Food vs. Fuel debate here in the United States when it comes to Corn ethanol, and the RFS is designed so that it never will in the future either.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @raktmn
          Hi RAKTMN: Food vs Fuel. Did you know that nearly half the World's population is staving or near starving? You need to go to India and rural China. We have an excess of corn and at least a billion people need it to survive. So for me it is a no-brainer as to what to do with the excess corn which is costing our gov't so much to store. And I wonder where those storage bins are? Tell me where there are. I would like to go and see them. I don't think they exist to the degree you think they do. But I could be wrong. So tell me where all this excess corn is being stored so I can go see it for myself.
          bluepongo1
          • 1 Year Ago
          @raktmn
          Less projected yield due to higher temps/ stunted growth = food vs. fuel
      Marco Polo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Here we go again, ethanol fans repeat the same nonsense over and over again. Every time a claim by ethanol advocates is debunked or disproved, they switch to a new claim, and so on until they arrive back at the original claim, to justify this obsolete, wasteful technology. The claims made by the US corn based ethanol industry include: 1) Environmentally beneficial in reducing CO2. (Untrue, actually the opposite is the case. US corn based ethanol is environmentally harmful) 2) Ethanol replace fossil fuel as transport fuel ! Later revised to, well will replace a bit of Oil. (always a logistical absurdity ! ) 3) Wonderful new feed-stock's developed to replace corn ! (never happened, despite hundreds of billions spent in research) 4) Doesn't compete with food ( more absolute nonsense). 5) Industry improving and a good investment ! ( billions lost, newly built plants closed before opened etc. After 40 years the industry only exists, due to mandates and subsidies) 6) Keeps corn farmers, ethanol producers, RFS lobbyists, Big Agriculture and farm state politicians in jobs. ( this is at least true, but wasteful and environmentally harmful ). Links ; http://www.motherjones.com/transition/inter.php?dest=http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/01/how-us-eu-biofuel-policy-beggars-global-south http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865570406/Are-biofuels-starving-the-worlds-poor.html http://www.wealthdaily.com/articles/children-of-the-corn/3992 http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/05/16/round-and-round-the-ethanol-goes/ http://www.nucleartownhall.com/blog/william-tucker-bad-week-for-biofuels/
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Marco Polo
        Hi Marco Polo: You got it 100% correct. The entire ETHANOL story is all about politics and has nothing to do with the environment or extending gasoline supply. For Presidential candidates obtaining the early support from the CORN BELT states is important since they hold the first nominating elections or Caucasus in the nation. You hit on all the lies we have been told. Reduce pollution is a good one. It takes more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol then what the ethanol contains. Brazil has a somewhat successful ethanol program only because they use sugar not corn. Sugar produces more ethanol per energy expended then does corn. But the only reason Brazil's program is successful is that they don't have access to cheap oil as we do. Everything the Washington Brain Trust has told us about ethanol is a BIG LIE. But then this is consistent with Washington.
        EVnerdGene
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Marco Polo
        bravo Marco
      Marcopolo
      • 1 Year Ago
      The US corn based Ethanol industry only exists because of huge taxpayer/ consumer subsidies. It remains in existence due to the power of it's very effective and wealthy farm/Big agriculture farm lobby which operates at a federal level. Remove the federal mandate for this uneconomic, environmentally harmful, obsolete product and the industry would collapse. Stubbornly clinging to a failed alternative energy product, that does more harm than good, is folly. Everyone, from American consumers paying more for food, taxes and fuel, to the worlds poor, suffer as a result of US Ethanol. The environment suffers the worst. The madness extends to the US being forced to import unneeded, unwanted, ethanol during times of drought, just to fulfil the mandates supporting this failed industry. It's time to simply cut this industry loose, and let it die.
        Rob Mahrt
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Marcopolo
        I do not disagree with your overall sentiment but as a shared in my comment below according to just one wuote I saw (so validity is still in question) in 2008 a $6 billion total Ethanol subsidy reduced fuel pricing in the U.S. by 15%, savings the consumer $60 billion for that same year. What seems like the best idea is to remove all tarrifs and subsidies and to import Brazilian sugar cane bio fuel as it is the most efficient crop to turn to ethanol. Something like 50 times better a feedcrop than corn. But we currently prevent any sugar ethanol from being competitive. Bad news.
          raktmn
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Rob Mahrt
          Yes, it has been well documented that US consumers pay less for their gas due to ethanol. In addition, we are spending less in tax dollars to US corn farmers to pay them not to farm, and we are no longer paying US tax dollars to maintain a floor on corn prices in order to avoid boom-bust farming cycles like the US used to have. These boom-bust cycles that were a natural part of free market farming led to mass starvation right here in the US. Corn ethanol isn't the end-all for ethanol feed-stocks, it is the lead-in fuel for other sources like cellulosic ethanol. Sugar ethanol is good for countries that grow lots of sugar. But just importing another energy source from another country doesn't help our trade imbalances, and it does the worst thing possible, it exports a food-based fuel from regions of the world that have much less food stability than the US, and imports it into the world's largest food producing nation. And Brazil actually had to import US produced corn ethanol in recent years. Importing Brazilian sugar cane ethanol doesn't make sense. If we are going to have sugar-based ethanol, we should grow and refine it here in US states and US territories. Or just continue with our current system of using corn that would otherwise have been left to rot while we transition to cellulosic ethanol.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Marcopolo
        Good post! You missed one element though. Cheap corn also makes for cheap animal feed. This is bad because many of these animals weren't really meant to eat the stuff all their lives. They were meant to run around eating seeds, bugs, grass, herbs etc. and soak in all those nutrients. Somewhere along the line, their immune systems are in trouble from this diet as well, and they need to take antibiotics. This means cheaper meat for the usa consumer, but sans all the nutrients and flavor that should be there, and potential superbugs on the way.. Oh, and what do we get from corn as well? high fructose corn syrup - which is much cheaper than sugar - why? because we have trade embargos and high tarrifs on foreign countries' sugar. So we make our sugar artificially cheap and make it in one of the most destructive ways as a result. This is why i don't like government toying with the market at all. I don't think any kind of subsidy is good. It's possible that the corn subsidy is the worst example of that. Would be nice if we stopped perverting the market here!
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          @ 2 wheeled menace Interesting theory about the animals being feed corn weakening immune systems, I must research the effects. I'm not automatically against subsidies, and some government regulation of the economy. But all government intervention must be carefully monitored to ensure that it doesn't exceed it's usefulness. and continue to prop-up industries long past the used-by-date. Ethanol is decades past it's used-by-date !
      mikeybyte1
      • 1 Year Ago
      So it is not clear from this article what the end result is. If there is already a Federal Renewable Fuel Standard is it truly a duplicate of the new State one thereby making the State one irrelevant? Or is Florida no longer doing any sort of renewable fuel programs?
        raktmn
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mikeybyte1
        The Federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is not an exact duplicate of the Florida State mandate for E10. The RFS doesn't specify how the ethanol gets sold, it just needs to be sold. Either that or RIN credits must be purchased from other states in the open RIN market, or the blenders will have to pay civil fines. According to the national RFS laws, all the ethanol can be sold entirely through E85 and E15 sales. Nobody is mandated to sell a single drop of E10 as long as they sell the total amount of ethanol required. Without the Florida E10 mandate, the blenders will either have to figure out how to market more E10, E15, and E85 to Floridians to make up for all the straight gas that will be sold, or pass on the cost of buying RIN credits or paying civil penalties to Floridians so that Floridians pay for their externalities tied to their fuel choice.
        paulwesterberg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mikeybyte1
        Many places in Florida don't even have recycling programs. On a recent trip It is pretty sad to see no recycling at Miami International Airport, but there are recycling bins locates along remote roads in Peru. Maybe they need the landfills debris to fight rising oceans...
      realjeep
      • 1 Year Ago
      How many more boat motors, chain saws, lawn mowers and classic cars does this crap have to ruin before people finally wise up and say enough? Polar Solvents and Hydrocarbons should NOT be mixed as a motor fuel.
      raktmn
      • 1 Year Ago
      E85 pump prices have very little to do with the cost of pure ethanol. If you graph the rise and fall of E85 prices against gasoline, they almost directly track with gas prices. E85 prices do not track with either wholesale pure ethanol prices, or with corn futures prices. E85 prices also don't track with electricity and natural gas prices, which are the largest energy inputs for distilling ethanol. E85 pricing is based upon market demand through fuel blenders who's main job is selling gasoline, not based on the cost of production/transportation + a profit margin. All ethanol is mandated by law to go through a gasoline blender in order to be sold as automotive fuel. When you look at the prices of E85, they are reflecting the fact that ethanol cannot be sold as pure ethanol for fuel. It must first be sold to a gasoline blender, who then manipulates the price. There is no direct tax subsidy going to ethanol for blending it into fuel anymore. That program was ended about 2 years ago. What specific "multiple" subsidies were you referring to?
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