Vilsack: Ethanol Mandate Triggers 'Constant Litigation'

February 19, 2016 06:53 AM
E85 ethanol

 The conflict between agriculture and petroleum interests over the government’s ethanol mandate shows no signs of abating, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

Oil and biofuel industry advocates have filed lawsuits over renewable fuel-consumption targets issued by the Environmental Protection Agency in November. Last week, Valero Energy Corp., the largest U.S. petroleum refiner and the third-biggest ethanol producer, became the latest company to sue the EPA.

Debate over the 2007 mandate forcing refiners to use ethanol in gasoline has intensified amid a shale boom that has boosted U.S. crude-oil supplies to the highest in 86 years. President George W. Bush touted the biofuel as a way to reduce dependence on foreign sources of oil. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, a senator from Texas, last month won the primary caucus in Iowa, the biggest producer of ethanol, while denouncing the mandate.

“You’re going to have constant litigation,” Vilsack said Thursday in a telephone interview.


Recent Lawsuits

The American Petroleum Institute, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers and Americans for Clean Energy, a consortium of biofuel industry advocates, have sued the Obama administration in recent months.

In November, the EPA said refiners must use 14.5 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol this year. That’s below the 15 billion outlined in 2007 when Bush signed the so-called Renewable Fuels Standard. The target topped the 14 billion initially proposed in May.

The oil industry says that the targets call for more ethanol to be consumed than is safe to be used in engines, while biofuel proponents, such as the Renewable Fuels Association, say that the law was designed to increase the gasoline’s additive’s share of motor-fuel consumption.

Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, said it doesn’t help any party to have the dispute ultimately reach the Supreme Court following the death of justice Antonin Scalia and congressional threats to block a successor nominated by President Barack Obama.

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Spell Check

Fountain Hills, AZ
2/20/2016 09:06 AM

  Ag verses petroleum??? I do not see a mandate to consume pork/poultry/milk/beef/forage/cotton/wheat/peanuts and vegetables!! It is not Ag verses Petroleum! It is another failed government program that places a segment of Ag above the rest of us.

K j Peterson
Austin, TX
2/20/2016 02:07 PM

  Many small gas engines can't run on E85 and cause maintenance a certain problems on current E90! Anybody care? 2014 Ford pickup gets 17 MPG on E90 21./MPG on real gas. FACT! Any one care?

minot, ND
2/21/2016 09:50 AM

  There is certainly nothing wrong with running 10 or 15 percent ethanol in all of our gas, I would have to agree running E85 you can lose a little fuel mileage but on E30 I haven"t found any difference. The only reason big oil don't like ethanol is cause they don't want any competition. Other countries have a 15 percent Ethanol mandate so why can't we if it helps out the American Farmers!!