In a presentation at the annual Emerging Issues Forum, Clean Fuels Development Coalition Executive Director Douglas Durante called on ethanol supporters to not only defend the federal Renewable Fuel Standard but to move beyond it by capitalizing on the economic, energy supply, environmental and health benefits of ethanol in mid- and high-level blends including E85.
Durante told attendees at the 9th Annual Ethanol Forum that the obsession with RFS volumes has distracted the industry from pursuing other, often higher values that are not bound by the RFS. The key to capturing that value he said is using ethanol in flex fuel vehicles.
"Ethanol is treated like a second class citizen in the alternative fuels community, and we have had enough," said Durante. "E85 is defined in law as an alternative fuel and is no different from electricity, propane, natural gas, methanol and other non-petroleum fuels. Ethanol is denied access to programs, funding and incentives these other alternatives receive. Yet ethanol is clearly the most readily available and efficient of any of them."
He cited the phase out of incentives for the manufacture of flex fuel vehicles as a prime example of this disparity. Electric and natural gas vehicles receive an “artificial value” in the credit they get for reducing carbon and future mileage calculations. "High levels of ethanol can do more, immediately, to reduce carbon, lower petroleum consumption and improve emissions than any other fuel, period. If we are serious about reducing petroleum use with low carbon fuels how is this possible? Twenty million flex fuel vehicles are on the road today. These vehicles were produced without a penny of taxpayer cost nor at any additional cost to consumers. All automakers asked was the ability to capture appropriate credits in the new regulatory structure for the carbon and petroleum savings these vehicles provide."
Durante also cited numerous federal programs such as the $16 billion loan fund for advanced vehicles at the Department of Energy. "The sole mission of this program is to produce vehicles that can reduce petroleum use and carbon emissions. Why not redirect just one or two billion dollars of that to a loan fund for flex fuel pumps to fuel the FFVs that are on the road today? That, along with reinstating FFV credits, will make more of an impact in the next year than any other program currently in place. And, we will meet and blow right past the RFS biofuel requirements,” said Durante.
Finally, Durante noted the significant potential for mid and high level ethanol blends to provide reductions in particulates and the potential for substituting clean octane for toxic aromatics. Through CFDC's partnership in the Urban Air Initiative they are raising awareness of the increasing pollution coming from consumer gasoline.