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EPA Holds Public Hearing on Renewable Fuel Standard; MRF Testifies

June 09, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC– Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a public hearing in Kansas City, MO concerning the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), also referred to as ethanol mandates, and allowed interested parties the opportunity to testify regarding how the regulation affects them.

A variety of stakeholders testified; many of which expressed concern about ethanol mandates forcing increased amounts of biofuels into the U.S. fuel supply and possible effects. However, the majority of speaking slots were filled with pro-biofuel individuals which support higher blends of ethanol in fuel. They spoke passionately citing frustration that a recent EPA proposed rule published in May would increase renewable fuel volume obligations but not at levels they deem “high enough.”

On the other side of the spectrum, oil producers and others expressed concerns over higher ethanol blends citing negative effects on the environment, food supply, costs to taxpayers and deleted resources. Congress created the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand the nation’s renewable fuels sector while reducing reliance on imported oil. As a result, the EPA is required to set annual RFS volume requirements for four categories of biofuels. One of these categories, “Renewable Fuel” accounts for corn-based ethanol. Recently, the EPA announced a proposal for their recommended level of corn-based ethanol renewable energy to be blended into gasoline for 2017 which is 18.8 billion gallons, an increase from 2016 levels.

Concern over E15

Several individuals expressed concern in both written and oral testimony specifically focused on blended fuel containing 15 percent ethanol (E15) and its potential to wreak havoc on engines by causing corrosion, rubber swelling and other damages. The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) was represented through the Freedom of Road Riders (FORR) which also delivered testimony. “Encouraging new research, specifically targeted towards motorcycle engines as well as the effects on internal combustion, could help alleviate the concerns of motorcycle riders, as well as motorcycle manufacturers,” stated Amy Allmon, MRF Rep and Member of FORR. Allmon went on to also tout the importance of consumer education asking the EPA to, “help ensure that consumers have a comprehensive understanding of the risks associated with using fuel with a higher blend of ethanol.”

Working Together

A major coalition, known as “Smarter Fuel Future” has been active in addressing concerns over ethanol mandates. It brings together major associations, companies, environmental groups and others in order to reform the current mandates. Recently, the MRF became engaged with the Coalition and began participating in supportive activities. This outlet can serve as an opportunity to voice the position of the MRF and its members to learn more about the effects on motorcycles and higher blends of ethanol. This week the Smarter Fuel Future coalition sent a congressional letter to the EPA encouraging increased consumer awareness on E15’s potential to cause damage and cited concern over the lack of public knowledge on this fact and related federal laws. The coalition website can be accessed here at http://smarterfuelfuture.org/

In its entirety, the hearing lasted for several hours, allowing over 120 people the opportunity to speak. Interestingly, while motorcyclists’ rights groups had a presence during the hearing, manufacturers of motorcycles were not present on the witness list.

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