Over e-mail Transom: EPA Continues to Mandate Imaginary Biofuels

Russ Steele

This came from a regula reader:

WASHINGTON, May 25, 2012 – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today denied the American Petroleum Institute’s (API’s) request to eliminate mandates for biofuels that do not exist, and the agency continues to fine refiners for not using them. 

“EPA’s mandate is out of touch with reality and forces refiners to pay a penalty for not using imaginary biofuels,” said API Director of Downstream and Industry Operations Bob Greco. “EPA’s unrealistic mandate is effectively an added tax on making gasoline.” 

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to determine the mandated volume of cellulosic biofuels each year at “the projected volume available.” However, in 2011 EPA required refineries to use 6.6 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels even though, according to EPA’s own records, none were commercially available. EPA today denied API’s 2011 petition for reconsideration of the mandate and continues to mandate these nonexistent biofuels this year. 

“The fact that EPA continues to mandate these biofuels that do not exist is regulatory absurdity and bad public policy,” Greco said.

The EPA Staff believes in magic!  If they think if they continue to mandate the use of bio-fuels, some one will make it happen.  Right, just like the ancient alchemist were mandated by the King to turn lead into gold. And, we know how well that turned out.

This reminds me of one of my first real encounters with staffers in Washington. I was working for TRW and we were creating intelligent vehicle systems for autos, anti-collision radars, in-vehicle information systems, satellite vehicle tracking and traffic management systems.  We came to Washington to meet with the leader of the House Transportation Committee Chairman to discuss the upcoming transportation appropriation bill and IVS funding in the bill.

We had an appointment, but he stiffed us, which gave us chance to chat with his staff.  They were highly educated, with advanced degrees from highly regarded eastern universities, but they were dumb as post when it came to knowledge of the western states and the challenges we face in the mountain and on the long stretches of highway that can vanished in the rear view mirror and over the dash is a straight line. It turned out the Chairman was from the CA, but none of his staff had every been west of the Mississippi River. These folk were writing legislation that had an impact on the western highways, who had never see or use a western highway.  They were blinded by ignorance.

I will be willing to bet the EPA staff is highly educated but have never been to a failed biofuel plant, to learn about the challenges that have to be overcome to produce biofuels in the quantities required. What can be done in the lab often does not scale up very well in the field.  So they sit dumb as cedar post behind their computer screens, unable to come to grips why their mandates are not producing results.

Thanks to a regular reader of this blog for the e-mail tip.


About Russ Steele
Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.

5 Responses to Over e-mail Transom: EPA Continues to Mandate Imaginary Biofuels

  1. Arthur M. Day. says:

    As a long time admirer of cedar trees and cedar wood, I protest your using cedar wood as an example of dumb. Cedar is smart enough to resist the forces of decay for far longer than oak or pine.
    I am working on the concept of Functional Idiocy. It is manifested when intelligent, educated people are guided into idiotic statements and behaviors by their embracing failed ideologies as a substitute for a normal level of self confidence.

    • Michael Anderson says:

      Arthur wrote: “It is manifested when intelligent, educated people are guided into idiotic statements and behaviors by their embracing failed ideologies as a substitute for a normal level of self confidence.”

      So let’s find out how to work through the dichotomies of all of those “failed ideologies,” as they are perceived by the purveyors of so-called truth.

      What is Truth? Some of Wikipedia’s entries can be questionable, but this one has clearly been adjudicated by many experts, I cannot image an entry for Truth in the Funk & Wagnalls that could be this comprehensive.


      • It is also dependent on the people in charge. The “truth” in Cuba might be a bit different than the truth in a Evangelical Church. Or as President Clinton said once “it depends on what the definition of is is” or something like that. So whomever is in charge of the definition at the time is the truth guru.

  2. Sean says:

    Russ, I don’t think being thick headed about energy policy is restricted to the east coast. California has its low carbon fuel standard which is not all that different than the cellulosic ethanol mandate. Perhaps it’s just a characteristic bureaucrats who are full of themselves and love to regulate.

  3. Arthur M. Day. says:

    “So let’s find out how to work through those “failed ideologies” as they etc.” In the context of what I said, that’s an idiotic statement.

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