e85 ethanol station

A pair of US lawmakers told the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that ethanol credits are leading to some deficits. Attempting to stem what they say could be an additional boost in gas prices prior to the busy summer-driving months, David Vitter (R-LA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) are raising questions, Reuters reports.

In a letter to the EPA, the two senators say fuel suppliers are having a progressively harder time buying enough credits, or RINs (Renewable Identification Number), from renewable fuel producers to keep up with federal mandates.

Central to the issue is the fact that prices for RINs have jumped higher than Superman on his best day. They are now worth more than a dollar a gallon, up from one cent a gallon (!) in December. With ethanol accounting for about 10 percent of gasoline, the RIN price jump translates to a 10-cent-a gallon increase in gas prices. Average fuel prices are up about 40 cents a gallon compared to December, to about $3.70 a gallon, according to AAA.

Other senators from ethanol producing states say the jump in RIN prices has less to do with demand or stiffening biofuel mandates and may have more to do with speculators playing the RIN market. Recently, a 12-year-sentence was handed down to a fraudster misrepresenting biodiesel RIN credits.