The latest U.S. Energy Information Administration data again shows ethanol blending and consumption in the U.S. remain steady and strong compared to previous years. This disproves claims that U.S. ethanol demand has been decimated by hardship waivers exempting small refineries facing that are facing hardship from their Renewable Fuel Standard blending obligations.
As a percentage of motor gasoline, ethanol accounted for 10.14 percent from January to August 2019 — an increase over the 10.08 percent logged over the same period in 2018. That amounts to an additional four million gallons of ethanol consumed in the first eight months of this year.
At the same time, demand destruction resulting from ongoing trade issues remains a very real problem for U.S. ethanol in the export market. Exports this year continue to decline relative to 2018, with 157 million fewer gallons of U.S. ethanol sold internationally through August of this year.
This demand destruction in exports, as well as high corn prices and an industry-wide push to right-size ethanol output, has resulted in ethanol production declining more than 200 million gallons relative to 2018. None of this is tied to small refinery compliance exemptions issued to refineries facing hardship under the Renewable Fuel Standard.