New fuel regulations could drive up gas prices if they require car owners to use a “potentially damaging” type of gasoline that could hurt cars' engines, according to AAA.
The automobile club said in a statement on Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency could cause gas prices to surge if it requires fuel refiners to blend a high percentage of ethanol in with conventional gas as part of the 2014 renewable fuel standard (RFS).
“There is a real opportunity to put motorists first in what has been a very contentious disagreement between various industries,” said AAA President Bob Darbelnet. “Gas and car maintenance costs are high enough as it is, and it would be a relief to know that the RFS will not cause significant problems for consumers next year.”
The fuel mandate, which is expected from the EPA in coming weeks, requires refiners to mix certain amounts of ethanol and other biofuels in with gasoline each year as a way to spur innovation in new fuel sources and reduce American dependence on foreign oil.
Leaked drafts of the EPA’s 2014 standards indicate that the agency is planning to roll back its requirements for ethanol.
That would be good news for drivers, Darbelnet said.
“It is great news to hear that the EPA is considering a RFS proposal that would support this home-grown alternative while acknowledging the inability to achieve an outdated mandate,” he said.
In a statement sent to The Hill, the EPA said that the administration “remains firmly committed to furthering the development of all biofuels – including corn-based ethanol, cellulosic biofuel, and advanced biofuel – as part of the President’s commitment to developing a clean energy economy.”
However, the agency added that it is still working on draft standards and has yet to make a final decision about the 2014 rules.
The oil industry has said that gasoline with a high percentage of biofuel can be hazardous to cars.
Some automakers have warned that using higher blends of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol, called E15, could void consumers’ warranties.
Biofuel companies have claimed that most cars on the road can process higher blends of ethanol perfectly fine.
In recent weeks, officials representing oil and biofuel industries alike have met with the Obama administration to plead their case about the mandate,
The draft EPA regulation is currently under review at the White House. By law, it is due out by the end of November.
-- This story was updated with comments from the EPA at 5:31 p.m.