When the oil industry and the Environmental Protection Agency cite the 10 percent “blend wall” as a reason to slash the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and cut the amount of homegrown ethanol blended in our fuel supply, one can point to Minnesota as a prime example of why the “blend wall” is a myth.
Ethanol’s opponents came up with a term called the “blend wall” to describe what they say is the upper limit of ethanol consumption in the fuel marketplace. What they refuse to acknowledge (or deliberately leave out) is the fact that they built the blend wall themselves by blocking access to renewable fuels.
According to data from the Energy Information Administration, ethanol makes up 12.2 percent of Minnesota’s fuel supply, the most of any state in the nation. While Big Oil and other ethanol critics continue to claim that the United States is unable to support an ethanol blend rate higher than 10 percent, Minnesota not only climbed right over the “blend wall,” it bulldozed through it.
Minnesota has proven that when you install the necessary infrastructure like flex-fuel pumps to give consumers a true choice when filling up, the “blend wall” crumbles. With nearly 300 fueling stations offering E85, and investments from the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and other partners to install flex-fuel pumps that dispense E15 and other higher ethanol blends in the Twin Cities region, more Minnesotans than ever before are choosing homegrown ethanol fuels that improve air quality and are lighter on their wallet than regular unleaded.
In fact, 22 states have broken through the 10 percent blend wall. Despite this fact, EPA and Big Oil still cling to the “blend wall” talking point as a reason to move America’s energy policy backward and cut the RFS.
What EPA fails to understand is that Big Oil built the “blend wall.” Since most fuel stations are owned by Big Oil brands, they refuse to put in the necessary infrastructure that would give consumers a choice at the pump and comply with the RFS as Congress originally intended. Then Big Oil cites the “blend wall,” claims ethanol has reached its saturation point in the fuel marketplace, and demands EPA cuts the RFS.
Unfortunately for the rest of us, EPA buys Big Oil’s “blend wall” myth hook, line and sinker.
Instead of falling for the “blend wall” talking point, EPA should use Minnesota as a model for how states can give consumers real choice at the pump and put the “blend wall” myth to bed once and for all.