WASHINGTON, DC– Over the past several years, motorcyclists have shown an increasing interest in the politics surrounding ethanol, and more specifically, the Renewable Fuel Standard. Congress adopted the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in 2005 and expanded it in 2007. The program requires oil companies to blend increasing volumes of renewable fuels like ethanol with gasoline and diesel, culminating with 36 billion gallons in 2022.
Ultimately, the effects of the mandatory increase in renewable fuels will be seen at the pump. Critics of the RFS are concerned that they will be forced to use higher ethanol-blended gasoline like E15 in their bikes. And their concern is valid. There is reason to believe that ethanol can impact smaller engines like those used in motorcycles, boats, snowmobiles and power equipment among others. Higher levels of ethanol put into a small engine, can make it run at higher temperature. Further, because ethanol is an alcohol, it attracts water. When you have water that comes into an engine, the potential of corrosion can occur.
Needless to say, motorcyclists are concerned. But so are many others. Because there is so much controversy over the ethanol mandate, we have seen Congress introduce dozens of measures that both support and criticize the current mandate. However, as the legislative year winds down, it is looking less and less likely that any of these proposals will be passed into law. As an effect, both ethanol proponents and critics are looking at the issue through the lens of a possible Trump Administration or Clinton Administration. Rhetoric on the issue between the two candidates can give some indication of where they might fall on the contentious issue of ethanol.
At an event hosted by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, Trump clearly stated to the room of ethanol supporters that he supported higher blends of ethanol and that the EPA should follow through on the ethanol mandates set forth by Congress. Though he made his position crystal clear, it’s important to remember the setting for the speech and also that the speech was made just days before the Iowa caucus; a critical state during primary season. Although since then and more recently, Mr. Trump has been quoted as saying that ethanol is, “the key to complete American energy Independence,” even meeting with major ethanol producers.
For former Senator Clinton, she made waves recently, when it was reported that that the Clinton campaign had discussed the Renewable Fuel Standard with Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, a noted critic of the ethanol standard, and potential Clinton EPA chief. Though when asked, a Clinton spokesperson rejected the notion that Mrs. Clinton would repeal the RFS. It also should be noted that in May, Mrs. Clinton wrote an op-ed for an Iowa publication where she indicated that she supported the ethanol mandate but there was room for improvement.
Given the controversy surrounding the issue, it’s likely that both candidates will be asked for their positions during the presidential debates leading up to the November elections. Both those who support and those who oppose the ethanol mandates are likely to be listening with baited breath in an attempt to predict what the future holds for ethanol in America.
About Motorcycle Riders Foundation
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) provides leadership at the federal level for states’ motorcyclists’ rights organizations as well as motorcycle clubs and individual riders. The MRF is chiefly concerned with issues at the national and international levels that impact the freedom and safety of American street motorcyclists. The MRF is committed to being a national advocate for the advancement of motorcycling and its associated lifestyle and works in conjunction with its partners to help educate elected officials and policymakers in Washington and beyond.