As is its job, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) continues to bang the drum of what it says is a stacked deck against alternative fuels like ethanol. Earlier this month it took on Big Oil. Now, it's the US Department of Energy (DOE). Go big or go home, huh?

The RFA is accusing the DOE of under-reporting the number of US gas stations that offer the 85-percent ethanol blend E85 and the group isn't splitting hairs, here. The RFA says the DOE's count is about 1,000 stations off. The comparison is between, which lists about 3,450 stations that sell E85, and the DOE, which as of late last week listed about 2,400 stations. Besides making it more difficult for people to find E85, the RFA says that the DOE's under-reporting could impact upcoming biofuel rules, specifically the final 2014 blending requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Earlier this month, the RFA went on record as saying that some of the largest oil companies were blocking E85 and E15 (i.e., the 15-percent ethanol blend) from their gas stations. That accusation spurred two senators – Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley and Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar – to request that the Federal Trade Commission investigate. Big Oil has maintained that the Renewable Fuel Standard, which mandates an increasing amount of renewable fuel in the national fuel blend, should be repealed. Check out the RFA's press release below and find the RFA's letter to the DOE here.
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RFA to DOE: Update Your E85 Data!

July 25, 2014

(July 25, 2014) WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) pointed to the vast underrepresentation of E85 stations in the Department of Energy's (DOE) Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) database and implored DOE to accurately account for all stations selling E85. RFA uncovered nearly 1,000 missing stations as it compared the 2,391 stations found in the database on Tuesday to the 3,349 retail locations found on the "crowd-sourced" website

"The AFDC database is way off in its reporting of E85 stations, and this is negatively influencing discussions over the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blending requirements. It isn't just a handful of stations that are missing; we are talking about the exclusion of hundreds of stations nationwide. In fact, they missed 40 percent of the stations that are included in other databases! That's simply unacceptable," said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA.

In a letter sent to the DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, the RFA illustrates the central role of the database in crucial policy decisions, stating, "EPA's mistaken belief that existing E85 refueling infrastructure is insufficient to distribute the 2014 RFS volumes specified in the statute is based in large part on information from the AFDC. As a result, the Agency wrongly proposed to reduce required renewable fuel blending volumes in 2014."

Dinneen stressed the urgent need for updated, accurate information as the EPA decides the final 2014 RFS blending requirements. He noted, "Accurate data is the foundation of well informed decisions. The so-called 'blend wall' - the level at which oil companies claim they can no longer blend ethanol into gasoline - can be scaled through increased use of E85. Therefore, an accurate accounting of E85 stations distributing low-cost, renewable fuels is vital to informing the debate over RFS implementation."

The letter concludes, "The correctness and completeness of the database has never been more important, as crucial policy and regulatory decisions are being informed by the information. Inadequate data leads to ill-informed policy decisions, which can have significant consequences for affected industries.

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