The Renewable Fuels Association today called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to take immediate steps to facilitate increased use of low-carbon ethanol to fill the void in gasoline supplies along the Eastern Seaboard created by the Colonial pipeline shutdown.
In a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper specifically asked EPA to suspend certain regulatory requirements that otherwise would impede and delay retailers from expanding the use of E15 to help offset fuel supply shortages. Cooper noted that some 180,000 barrels per day of ethanol production capacity is currently idle and could be “quickly activated or reoriented to help alleviate impending fuel shortages on the East Coast.”
More broadly, the pipeline shutdown highlights the risks of heavy dependence on a single fuel source. “The Colonial pipeline outage underscores a larger need for greater diversity and flexibility in our transportation fuels sector,” Cooper wrote. “Overreliance on petroleum has left our transportation fuels infrastructure vulnerable to disruption, with American consumers bearing the brunt of resultant price spikes and fuel shortages. By comparison, the fuel ethanol industry’s infrastructure is unconcentrated, dispersed, and uses a variety of efficient delivery channels. As the Biden administration pursues initiatives to expand and fortify our nation’s energy infrastructure, the Colonial pipeline shutdown serves as a poignant reminder that ethanol biorefineries are strategic assets that can and should play a larger role in powering America forward.”
Cooper noted that the Colonial pipeline outage continues to threaten gasoline supplies for much of the Eastern Seaboard. While Colonial has announced a goal of “substantially restoring operational service by the end of the week,” experts are expecting the supply disruption could impact the East Coast market for weeks and lead to the highest retail gas prices in at least seven years.