A federal regulation that demands oil refiners use millions of gallons of cellulosic ethanol, which does not exist, has caused frustration for refiners across the country.
“As ludicrous as that sounds, it’s fact,” says Charles Drevna, a representative for refiners. “If it weren’t so frustrating and infuriating, it would be comical.”
From the Institute of Energy Research, Tom Pyle, said, “the cellulosic biofuel program is the embodiment of government gone wild.”
Refiners are incredibly frustrated because the government issued requirements to blend cellulosic ethanol way back in 2005 in the hopes that someone would make it. It has been seven years and no one has made it yet.
“None, not one drop of cellulosic ethanol has been produced commercially. It’s a phantom fuel,” Pyle said. “It doesn’t exist in the market place.”
Drevna said, “forcing us to use a product that doesn’t exist, they might as well tell us to use unicorns.”
Despite this, refiners still have to pay what they call fines:
“Why would they ask them to blend any at all if it doesn’t exist?” Pyle said. “Because they know that they can squeeze some extra dollars out of them.”
The Environmental Protection Agency has the discretion to reduce the annual requirement. The EPA hopes that the production of cellulosic ethanol will still occur.
“We are going to reduce your blending obligation by 98 percent because we feel that that’s the right thing to do,” says Brooke Coleman, the executive director of the Advanced Ethanol Council of the Renewable Fuels Association. “We are going to maintain your blending obligation on the gallons that we think are going to emerge.”
A study released recently by the Congressional Research Service, said that the government “projects that cellulosic bio fuels are not expected to be commercially available on a large scale until at least 2015.”
Drevna has said that the refiners association has no other options available since the EPA told them they still had to blend something close to cellulosic ethanol, which does not exist.
“We’ve had to go to the courts and litigate this thing is because they just turned a blind eye to us,” Drevna said.
The EPA is now being sued by the refiners because the mandate continues to increase as it is at 500 million gallons this year, it will be at 3 billion gallons in 2015 and at 16 billion gallons in 2022. Despite the mandates, there is not even one gallon of cellulosic ethanol in sight.