The 2017 Renewable Fuel Standard volume requirements announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are higher than the agency's May proposal and will mandate more ethanol in the nation's fuel supply chain despite a low demand for higher ethanol blends and an inadequate distribution and sales network, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.
"We told the EPA in May that increasing the amount of ethanol in our fuel supply creates an untenable situation for the marketplace and raises the risk to motorcyclists and ATV owners," said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations. "The agency ignored our comments and the concerns of millions of motorcyclists. So, now it is up to Congress to fix the Renewable Fuel Standard."
The Renewable Volume Obligations call for 19.28 billion gallons of biofuel for 2017, up from 18.11 billion gallons this year. The final EPA figure for 2017 was higher than the 18.8 billion gallons proposed in May.
The AMA objects to this increase in the Renewable Volume Obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard.
"Increasing the amount of ethanol in our fuel supply is going to result in higher-ethanol blends, such as E15, at more pumps and stations," Allard said. "The widespread availability of E15 and higher-ethanol fuels increases the risk that owners will inadvertently misfuel their motorcycles."
E15 fuel is a blend of 85 percent gasoline and 15 percent ethanol and represents a 50 percent increase in ethanol over the common E10 blend most Americans currently use in their vehicles.
None of the estimated 22 million motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles in use in the United States is approved by the EPA to operate on ethanol blends higher than 10 percent. Using higher-ethanol blends in those vehicles is illegal and may cause engine and fuel system damage and void the manufacturer's warranty.
By again increasing the amount of ethanol in America's gasoline, the EPA is further straining the fuel marketplace by exceeding the blend wall by hundreds of millions of gallons. The blend wall is the point at which no more ethanol can be blended without forcing consumers to use higher blends, such as E15, E30 and E85.
The AMA also is concerned that the increased reliance on corn-based ethanol could further reduce the amount of E0 fuel available. Since the distribution network for E15 and E85 is limited, fuel producers may be forced to reduce E0 output to stay within the RVO rule, leaving owners of older and vintage motorcycles without a reliable fuel supply.
Of the 19.28 billion gallons of biofuels mandated for 2017, 15 billion gallons would be conventional corn ethanol. Of the remainder, 4.28 billion gallons would be advanced biofuels, 2 billion gallons would be biomass-based diesel and 311 million gallons would be cellulosic.
The final EPA 2017 rule can be found here: https://www.epa.gov/renewable-fuel-standard-program/final-renewable-fuel-standards-2017-and-biomass-based-diesel-volume.