Renewable Fuel Standard and E15 Face Tough Scrutiny at Congressional Hearings

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

Witnesses representing oil, fuel and petrochemical, livestock, automotive, food, biofuel and environmental organizations testified for two days before a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on whether the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) should be repealed or scaled back. The RFS mandates that an increasing amount of biofuels be blended into gasoline each year. It is the driving force behind the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to permit sales of 15% ethanol in gasoline (E15) in order to achieve the RFS mandates.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has spent several months soliciting public feedback and releasing a series of white papers addressing several aspects of the standard, including impacts on agriculture, energy policy, fuel production and the environment. The hearings are a culmination of the committee’s examination of the standard. The stage is now set to consider legislation. Several bills have been introduced to repeal the RFS (HR 1461, S.1195), amend the mandates (HR 1462, HR 1482) or freeze the mandates at their current levels (HR 1469).

SEMA supports reducing the RFS mandates and banning the sale of E15. Ethanol can cause metal corrosion and dissolve certain plastics and rubbers. SEMA opposes E15 gasoline since many older cars were not constructed with materials to counteract ethanol’s harmful effects. E15 can also burn hotter than E10 gasoline and cause damage to certain high-performance specialty parts. 

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