For first time, U.S. gasoline averaged more than 10% ethanol last year: Report

In what industry leaders heralded as proof that the “blend wall” is nothing more than a myth, a new study released Wednesday shows that U.S. gasoline contained more than 10 percent ethanol on average for the first time last year.

The report, released by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and citing recent data from the federal Energy Information Administration, says that the average ethanol content in gasoline last year was 10.04 percent — the first time it’s topped the 10-percent mark, which ethanol critics have maintained was the limit for safe operation for the country’s fuel infrastructure and for many automobiles.

The news comes amid uncertainty for the ethanol industry under President Trump. While the president was highly supportive of ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard — the 2007 legislation that mandated ethanol be mixed into the nation’s gas supply at increased levels each year — other administration officials, such as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, have been much more skeptical.

There’s also an increased effort from oil-and-gas industry leaders, who clearly have the ear of the White House and the EPA, to stop the growth of the ethanol industry and halt increased blending into gas supplies.

For now, however, the ethanol sector says Wednesday’s report is proof that going beyond 10 percent ethanol in gasoline isn’t the major issue some have made it out to be.

“EIA’s data once again shows that the oil industry’s blend wall narrative is bankrupt, intended only to mislead consumers and undermine support for the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of RFA, the ethanol industry’s leading trade group. “The facts provide a different narrative. Ethanol is the lowest cost and cleanest burning source of octane today. Driven by the RFS and attractive blending economics, domestic refiners and blenders used more ethanol in 2016 than ever before and it’s likely that trend will continue this year.”

According to the government figures, total U.S. gas consumption was about 143.367 billion gallons last year, and that fuel contained just under 14.4 billion gallons of ethanol. That made the average content in a gallon of gasoline about 10.04 percent.

The trend accelerated in the latter part of the year and continued into 2017.

The RFA said that national average ethanol content was at 10 percent or higher in six of the last seven months of 2016. In December, it hit a record high of 10.30 percent.

That number was even higher in early 2017, hitting 10.41 percent in early January, the RFA said.
But the oil-and-gas industry is redoubling its efforts to stop even more ethanol from ending up in the nation’s fuel supply. Earlier this month, the American Petroleum Institute — the sector’s leading trade group and a powerful force in Washington — released a poll that found 68 percent of voters say they’re concerned about more ethanol in gasoline, and 74 percent said they believe government ethanol mandates could raise fuel prices.

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Comments (3)

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover

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    We realy need to conster harnessing all the HOT AIR coming fromthe various eco-wacko groups and making car fuel and drilling and fracking without the enviromentalists idiots sticking their noses in

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    ninetyninepct

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    About 4 yrs ago I deliberately used fuel with 10% ethanol in my E-85 ’07 Avalanche. On the 400 mile trip I burned almost 20% more fuel and the engine had significantly less power. It was a great relief to gas up with real gas at the end of the trip and have my power return and mileage increase back to non-ethanol levels. I make a point to stay away from gas stations that include ethanol. So far, here in Western Canada, only Shell has gas that isn’t contaminated with ethanol.

    • Avatar

      Sonnyhill

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      Your E85 vehicle should not have lost power or 20% mpg burning E10 fuel. Were you traveling at higher altitude? If so, that would account for a loss of power due to thin air. Otherwise, take your POS GM to your local dealer for a check-up.

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