Kristin Brekke is a saint. Well, actually, she’s Lutheran, and I’m not sure they have saints, but for all she puts up with from me, I think I would still nominate her for canonization.
As editor of Ethanol Today, one of Kristin’s most unpleasant tasks is getting me to submit a column each month. The deadline is the 5th of the month before the magazine comes out (I think), and I don’t know that I have ever made it. But somehow she remains calm and patient, gently reminding me that the deadline has passed and the magazine is done – save for my page, which is completely blank, except for the stunning photo and the headline “Waiting for Content.”
Most months, I eventually come across some item that leaves me either inspired or irate (usually the latter), and I create a rant of Unabomber manifesto proportions, which I eventually whittle down to about a hundred words more than fits this space. Kristin corrects the grammar, removes the profanity, adds some intelligent thought, and voila, we have “The Lamberty Report.”
As a Christmas gift to my editor, I considered submitting my column on time. Considered. But as the days flew by, I decided the best I could do was save her some time.
That was made possible by a November 17 news release from EPA. Each year, EPA takes the number of gallons of ethanol and other renewables required by the RFS and converts that number to a percentage of renewables that “obligated parties’” fuel must contain during the year. This year EPA said, “The 2009 renewable fuel standard will be 10.21 percent to ensure that at least 11.1 billion gallons of renewable fuels be blended into transportation gasoline.”
Did they say 10.21 percent? But EPA says we can’t use 10.21 percent in 97 percent of the vehicles on the road. We can only use 10 percent. And California isn’t changing to E10 until the end of next year. That means we have to sell a lot more E85. About a billion gallons more – give or take a hundred million. That’s close to ten times what we sell now. Not very likely.
Hmmm... Perhaps a higher blend of ethanol is in order. Is it wrong to want so badly to say “We told you so”?
Sure, there will be gallons sold by the 15 percent of refiners who are not “obligated parties,” and biodiesel will be sold, and there will be RINs available for sale. But last month, a very important thing happened. For the first time, the “Blend Wall” appeared on Big Oil’s radar while they were looking for EPA’s RFS advice for 2009 – “Waiting for Content,” as it were.
There, Kristin – see how I did that? You don’t have to come up with a new headline now. No need to thank me. Merry Christmas.