Fuel industry head predicts biofuel rule change

The head of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers is “very confident” that congressional lawmakers will change the federal renewable fuel mandate.

It won't happen this year, Charles Drevna said, but sooner or later Congress will make changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“You’re starting to see more and more development of, whether it’s the conservative voices and liberal voices coming together, saying the same thing: That the system is broken and it needs to be fixed,” he told reporters on Thursday.

“Really, Congress created this thing. Congress has to fix it,” he added.

He added that the mandate will probably not be ended entirely, but “there may be incremental progress here.”

“You can’t just flip a switch,” he said.

The Renewable Fuel Standard calls for fuel refiners to mix certain amounts of biofuels like ethanol in with conventional gasoline. The mandate was originally developed to wean the country off of foreign energy and invest in new sources of fuel.

Critics, though, say that the way the country consumes oil has changed since the fuel standard was first created in 2005. The standard’s demands for increasing amounts of ethanol is pushing refiners towards a “blend wall,” they say, where they are forced to blend a type of gasoline that cars can’t use.

The 2014 standard recently unveiled by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dramatically scaled back the amount of ethanol that fuel refiners have to blend in with conventional gasoline.

Drevna said that that was an acknowledgement that the current law is unworkable and overly strict.

But the EPA can’t be expected to make adjustments each year, he added.

“You can’t go year to year to year,” he said. “This takes a longer-term look by Congress.”