The word “gasoline” no longer characterizes the stuff we put into our cars. Due to regulations forced on the refining industry, “Frankenol” might be more accurate.
This government-engineered, market-distorting fuel is a blend of 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol (E10). Originally conceived to breathe life into the fledgling U.S. ethanol industry and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, continued tinkering with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has turned the program into a nightmare.
The RFS requires refiners to blend increasing amounts of ethanol into the nation’s fuel pool annually. Last year they were responsible for blending a minimum of 13.2 billion gallons. This year the figure is higher at 13.8 billion gallons. By 2022, the RFS mandate will require 36 billion gallons.
To document compliance, refiners track the RINs (Renewable Identification Numbers) applied to every gallon of ethanol purchased, or they buy paper RINs which are credits paid to ethanol producers. In either case, refiners have to spend real money to comply with the law.
In creating the RSF program, the government assumed that gasoline demand would continue to rise. It was wrong. With more fuel-efficient vehicles, a lackluster economy, and higher prices at the pump, gasoline demand has declined to the lowest level in 18 years.