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Renewable Fuel Standard, which mandates an increasing amount of renewable fuel in the national fuel blend, should be repealed.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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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 9 Months Ago
      Follow up article: "General Public Tells RFA Get with Reality Already." People voted with their wallets, and they don't want E85. They don't want E15, either. They don't want ethanol from corn.
        • 9 Months Ago
        I have no real opinion about ethanol as I am not sure it could solve our addiction to oil. However, saying that the people have voted with there wallets when in fact E85 and E15 have not been available broadly enough to have that contention be fairly tested is coming to a conclusion prior to a result. It's akin to the car companies saying that there is no demand for EVs when they only sell them in California. It is a stalling activity to protect the status quo. They tell the people of the world the answer they want them to accept. With regards to ethanol, 3,400 stations is too few to analyze the consumers acceptance level. Stalling the availbility to be only 2,400 station only means that the mindset of the consumer is even less certain.
          • 9 Months Ago
          E85 has been on the market well over a decade. No one demands it. It doesn't exactly sell out where it is sold. Companies aren't investing in it. All of that is "voting with their wallets." (Remember, companies are run by people, and usually, they are much more pragmatic than individuals because they are driven by simple requirements to make money. If there was profit to be made, they would invest in it.) E15 is too new to judge it, but look at who is pushing it. It's the result of the govt mandate to increase ethanol use, but given that sales of E85 haven't gone up (because people don't want it), the corn lobby had to find another outlet to dump ethanol into, and that's how we got E15--increase ethanol in "normal" gas. Without those mandates to increase ethanol use, E15 never would have been proposed.
        • 9 Months Ago
        This is a political issue. Think of the stupidest outcome and there is your answer. I had an '89 Pontiac GrandAm that could not run on ethanol. I would hit the gas to go at a stop light and pretty much stall. Wonder how many people these braniacs have killed. Martyrs for their cause.
        • 9 Months Ago
        I would disagree that no one wants E85. I think E85 is pushed to the wrong demographic. When I look at cars I find that most FlexFuel vehicles are large vehicles which I would never buy. I have never seen a FlexFuel hybrid or plug-in hybrid. It's difficult to demand a product when the vehicle you drive doesn't support the product, and no vehicle you'd consider driving supports the product. I always use blended fuel and would always use E85 if there was no chance of damaging my car.
          • 9 Months Ago
          You have never seen a flex fuel hybrid or plug-in because it would make NO SENSE. Decrease the mileage by 20%, then add weight and complexity to get that 20% back. Using food for fuel (and not a very good fuel at that) is ridiculous.
      • 9 Months Ago
      I drive older cars simply because I like them better. E85 fuel destroys older fuel systems and engines. Same with gas powered lawn equipment, etc. My concern is that pushing E85 will diminish and eventually eliminate E10 and will force guys like me to buy new cars. I'm sure the auto industry will heavily back the E85 push to sell more cars. I see the writing on the wall.
        Ricardo Gozinya
        • 9 Months Ago
        Yeah, Ducati for years had a problem with American fuel, because of the ethanol. Even in stuff below the E15 thing, the ethanol content in our gasoline would wreck their plastic fuel tanks. The stuff is nasty. It's also a crap fuel source. Takes more energy to make it than it provides. And it provides less energy than straight up gasoline, so your vehicle ends up burning more of it, or you go slower.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Advanced technologies allowed to create alternative types of fuel which are renewable, completely burn down and are more reliable, than traditional gasoline. First of all it is ethanol. Biofuel received by fermentation practically any substance containing starch or sugar — grains, potatoes, sugar cane, girasol, other agricultural plants, production wastes of foodstuff and drinks. Researches revealed opportunity to make ethanol also from cellulose which contains in wood, in corn stalks, a rice peel and millet. Production of bio ethanol is capable to stimulate substantially agricultural production, economy and to improve state environment. Globecore Blending is intended in production of fuel blending systems....
      • 9 Months Ago
      But ethanol will destroy your engine, make you sterile, and sleep with your wife! Sincerely, The American Petroleum Institute
      • 9 Months Ago
      Go home RFA, you are drunk. No one wants this crap. Let free market decide, not rules. If it makes sense as a fuel and a profit center, then it will succeed on its own. The ONLY reason it needs mandated is because it makes no sense as a fuel.
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