If it was anybody else I might take the objection more seriously, but when an oil lobbying group sues the EPA over the renewable fuel standard, it kind of takes the edge off. The American Petroleum Institute (API) is raising a legal stink over new rules requiring that biofuels be mixed with good old fashioned unleaded all American gasoline. Incidentally, the API is among many groups that funneled thousands of dollars to Koch backed conservative think tanks.
Dismantling renewable energy standards nationwide has been a high priority for the Koch Brother’s machine, lately. Specifically through the conservative group ALEC.
At least 77 (ALEC) bills to oppose renewable energy standards, support fracking, the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, and otherwise undermine environmental laws were introduced in 34 states in 2013
Viewed as a one-off dispute between the API and biofuels standards, the lawsuit against the EPA could seem unremarkable. Maybe even borne of legitimate concerns. But when viewed as just one more part of a larger nationwide effort of Koch friendly hyper-conseravtives to roll back all renewable energy progress in the U.S. in favor of a fossil fuel based agenda, one can be excused a certain amount of cynicism regarding the API’s lawsuit. Even if one isn’t entirely sold on biofuels.
The specific issue for which API is staking its corner of the anti-renewable energy assault, is a new EPA mandate that 1.28 billion gallons of biodiesel and 2.75 billion gallons of biofuel be mixed with traditional gasoline, while aiming for 36 billion gallons of the stuff by 2022.
The goal of the biofuel mandate is to help wean the United States off of foreign oil and make our fuel supply cleaner.
To be at least a little fair to API, the EPA did release its mandates 9 months late. That’s its own issue. However they go on to suggest that the new mandates are “unworkable,” can’t be done. It requires more cellulosic ethanol than is available on the market and surpasses the “blend wall” of 10 percent, at which point the gasoline to biofuel ratio become ineffective or even harmful for some vehicles.
We heard the same arguments about wind power and the renewable energy standards, when utilities swore up and down that wind power and renewable energy was unworkable. That certain very low thresholds of renewable energy would cause problems with the grid and make prices skyrocket. Didn’t happen. The market is brilliant at advancement when incentivized.
Bob Dinneen, President of the Renewable Fuels Association, disagrees that the new standards are unworkable.
“While the 2013 [Renewable Volume Obligations] were issued later than anyone would have liked, the fact is the statute is crystal clear, and all stakeholders have been producing and blending at levels that will unquestionably meet the 2013 requirements.”
Personally, I’m not sold on biofuels yet. I’m not sure about the net energy yield. I don’t feel good about taking land and crops otherwise suited for feeding people and turning it into energy production so folks like me have gas to drive on down to WalMart to buy lawn chairs or whatever.
But what I am sure about is that we can’t keep fueling our lives like we have been. We need to start finding alternatives right now, and even start developing the imperfect ones. Now is the time to push the bounds of what can be done instead of leaning on our old ways until every last cent of profit and carbon dioxide can be squeezed out of it, left wondering where to go next.