On Sept. 22, MRAA and 13 other
groups working to change the renewable fuel standard for ethanol additives to
gasoline met in the West Wing of the White House to discuss the impacts of
current renewable fuels and to ask the U.S. Office of Management and
Budget and the Environmental Protection Agency to maintain current volume levels for
next year. EPA attended the meeting, but via conference call in listen-only
EPA had just submitted a draft
rule to OMB for review and approval before it can be released to the public. Rumors
in the D.C. ethanol community indicate that EPA wants to increase the total
volume level of renewable fuels that must be blended with gasoline. OMB made it
clear at the beginning of the meeting that it would not release any detail as
of the rule, nor would it answer any questions. OMB was there to listen.
trade associations each described the impact of ethanol on their products, from
increasing grain prices for chickens to high transportation costs. MRAA’s
legislative council Larry Innis spoke about the impact on marine engines and
outboard motors. After describing MRAA members’ involvement as service
providers who see the damage and have to fix it, Innis mentioned that the
industry has been witnessing damage to older marine engines for some time now,
even with E-10. An increase to E-15 or even E-40 (which has been talked about within D.C. circles to meet volume
goals set by EPA to further reduce gasoline usage) would cause serious
problems, Innis explained, and be disastrous for public safety when boats quit
working underway and away from the dock. He asked that EPA maintain the current
levels of ethanol until the results of research being conducted by the U.S.
Coast Guard, boat manufacturers and the Department of Energy is complete.
OMB gave no indication of when
the rule is expected to be released.