Last week, the EPA issued its annual report that tracks the average fuel economy of vehicles sold in the United States. The report shows that model year 2012 vehicles achieved an all-time high fuel economy of 23.6 miles per gallon (mpg). This represents a 1.2 mpg increase over the previous year, making it the second largest annual increase in the last 30 years. Fuel economy has now increased in seven of the last eight years.
“Today’s new vehicles are cleaner and more fuel efficient than ever, saving American families money at the gas pump and helping to keep the air that we breathe cleaner,” said Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “Each year new technologies are coming on line to keep driving these positive trends toward greater and greater efficiency.”
This ever increasing fuel economy matters to corn farmers and the ethanol industry. Because cars are using less fuel, there are fewer gallons to blend 10 percent ethanol into. The end result is that the “blend wall” looms even closer than it ever has before.
IL Corn is putting a lot of time into building infrastructure and policy that supports higher blends of ethanol. In Springfield, we continue to push legislation that would transfer the E10 incentive to E15. In Detroit, we work with automakers to find out how we can keep them invested in building more flex fuel vehicles. In Washington, DC, we fight the idea that corn-based ethanol is not an advanced biofuel and thus, does not quality for larger portions of the Renewable Fuel Standard market.
And we are currently working to overturn the EPAs recent proposed rule that decreases the amount of ethanol U.S. retailers must use in 2014.
Fuel economy will continue to improve under the Obama administration’s National Clean Car Program standards. The program doubles fuel economy standards by 2025 and cuts vehicle greenhouse gas emissions by half. This reduction in gasoline demand could initiate a similar decrease in ethanol demand.
The standards will save American families $1.7 trillion dollars in fuel costs, and by 2025 will result in an average fuel savings of more than $8,000 per vehicle. The program will also save 12 billion barrels of oil, and by 2025 will reduce oil consumption by more than 2 million barrels a day – as much as half of the oil imported from OPEC every day. Corn-based ethanol could be a part of these important advancements for Americans, helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil even further and continuing to lower prices at the pump as it is doing now. The EPA has many opportunities to allow ethanol to play a part in America’s energy future, but will they?
The new report can be found at: http://epa.gov/otaq/fetrends.htm