We’ve hit the wall

Exactly as your bloggers have predicted the past several years, according to industry experts, we’ve finally hit the ethanol blending wall — even if every drop of gasoline produced in the U.S. contained 10% ethanol, the federally-mandated blending quotas cannot be met.  As the energy industry’s leading news service Platts reported this past week:

“The industry is clearly at the blend wall,” Stephen Brown, vice president of government affairs for refiner Tesoro said. “Everyone I’m talking to is hitting the blend wall this year — some sooner than others — but we’re all hitting it this year.”

When Congress signed the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) into law in 2007, conditions were far different, as the article further describes:

When the volumetric blending levels were set for the RFS in 2007, lawmakers, as well as industry representatives, didn’t expect the level of ethanol produced to exceed 10% of the national gasoline supply until much later this decade. But steadily declining gasoline demand coupled with increased fuel efficiency mean that benchmark, called the “blend wall,” will hit this year and, for some refiners, may have already been reached.

Unfortunately, neither Congress nor the EPA has reacted to the changing reality of fuel use in our country, nor to the fact that, as a result of fracking, the United States has nearly achieved the original goal of EISA 2007, energy independence, as this recent article in Forbes describes.

It’s “business as usual” in Washington, which seems to be making a science these days out of driving our nation over a cliff.  At a time when we should be seeing a gradual decrease of the price for all fuels including mogas, avgas and Jet-A as a result of increased supply, misguided policies such as EISA 2007 serve to increase the costs of energy and decrease our options. Sadly, unless someone dies, policies such as these get scant attention in Washington D.C., a city that increasingly appears to be out-of-touch with the realities faced by pilots and taxpayers in general.

Comments

  1. Kent,
    The wall I see is a complete lack of non-ethanol gas in Arizona.
    Mogas has become impossible to obtain.
    If there is anything I can do to help please let me know.

  2. Unfortunately, the practical upshot to all of this is that taxes —er, I mean ‘penalties’— are increasing for producers.

    Look for yet another price increase at your gas pump soon, thanks to our friends in Washington.

  3. Plain and simple, what, in the world, is the WALL ?!

  4. Can’t figure out either what the “wall” is, (in terms of lack of sufficient ethanol or lack of sufficient gasoline), and what impact it has on 100LL or my dream fuel, which is 91UL at sub $4/gallon pricing.

    What are you trying to say Kent?

    Does this “wall” give us some justification to advocate for an aviation specific unleaded fuel? If so; spell it out explicitly for the dummies like me. I can’t connect the dots and get to some constructive course of action with the info provided.

    • Kent Misegades says:

      The only viable alternative to 100LL avgas today is Premium, ethanol-free mogas, aka gasoline. The EISA2007 mandates have adulterated the nation’s supply of mogas, removing the only option we have to leaded aviation fuel, which itself will disappear due to environmental and economic pressures. Unless we switch to Jet-A burning diesels, nearly all our piston aircraft will become hangar queens.

      • My 80 octane PA-28-235, O-540 runs excellently on Mogas. I like that there’s no lead bromides on my plugs, and no grey lead sludge in my crankcase!

        I guess I’m not living in the same universe as the regulators, but my Garmin GPS says that I’m right here amongst the rest of you!

  5. David Gaeddert says:

    Yo dudes,
    All of my equipment, auto, Harley, snothrower, specify max 10% ethanol. Corn into Bourbon Whiskey, xclent in moderation. Into motor fuel, OK in moderation. Swift Fuels UL102 come on!

  6. Kent, as someone who is new to aviation and just coming up to speed on all these ethanol issue, what is the practical impact of the blending wall? Does it mean that refiners will be required to add even more ethanol to gasoline, etc? Or, will this be the sort of quota that gets quietly ignored because it cannot be met?

    • Kent Misegades says:

      Tons of information on the web, just search for ‘ethanol blending wall’. It has been approaching for some years now, but few have paid attention and even fewer understand our nation’s ethanol policies, especially the politicians who signed the law that have forced ethanol on all consumers whether they want it or not. Unfortunately, none of the aviation alphabets (except for LAMA) have really paid attention to mogas or the blending wall, so don’t look for details in any aviation publication from them.

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