Swartzmiller: Energy Policy Act a bad deal

CHARLESTON – Del. Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, speaker pro tempore of the West Virginia House of Delegates, says the Energy Policy Act of 2005 is not favorable for the traveling public and he has been to Washington, D.C. and expressed his thoughts to Congressional members on behalf of the citizens and businesses in West Virginia.

“Almost eight years ago, the United States Congress passed what was referred to as the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which established the first Renewable Fuel Standard,” Swartzmiller stated. “This program required refiners and importers of gasoline and diesel to use 7.5 billion gallons of biofuels (e.g. corn ethanol) by 2012. In 2007, Congress significantly expanded this law within the parameters of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which increased the mandate to 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022.”

Swartzmiller said the premise and structure of the RFS were based on assumptions and estimates which, he said, no longer reflect current market conditions.

“What the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t want you to know is, at the time the RFS was enacted, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected rising gasoline demand each year in the coming decades,” Swartzmiller stated. “The EIA also forecasted a continued rise in crude oil imports. A combination of the recession and the 2011 fuel economy standards has lowered the demand for gasoline in the U.S.”

Swartzmiller noted the 2007 EIA Annual Energy Outlook projected at 12 percent higher demand for gasoline than what currently exists, adding current projects show the demand continuing to decrease.

The level of crude oil imports also has declined, he said.

Swartzmiller said the lower numbers can be attributed to more fuel-efficient cars, people taking advantage of carpooling and an increase in public transportation.

“The combination of rising ethanol mandates and declining gasoline consumption has exacerbated the onset of the Ethanol 10 (E10) blendwall – the point at which the gasoline supply is saturated with the maximum amount of ethanol that current vehicles, engines, and infrastructure can safely use without damage to an engine,” Swartzmiller stated. “This year, the U.S. will consume approximately 133 billion gallons of gasoline and 0.13 billion gallons of E85. At 10 percent of gasoline demand, the blendwall occurs at 13.3 billion gallons even as the conventional biofuel mandate rises from 13.8 billion gallons in 2013 to 14.4 billion in 2014. Clearly, the market is anticipating the onset of the blendwall, as evidenced by the escalating price of ethanol renewable identification numbers, which reached a record high of $1.46 the week of July 15 after averaging below $0.04 in previous years. The higher the RINs credit cost the higher the price is for the consumer at the pump. A $1.46 RINs credit could end up costing the consumer four to six cents more at the pump.”

Swartzmiller said the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to ensure additional impacts do not occur, pledging to continue to continue working against the agency’s efforts to move those aspects of the Energy Policy Act forward.

“The EPA was created to implement common sense environmental regulations based on true documentation and true statistics,” he said. “This is just another attempt by the EPA to hurt business, create more layoff slips and cost our citizens more money because they are not being held accountable for their continued, irresponsible actions. Enough is enough.”