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By Sabine Martin October 28, 2021
By Lyle Muller October 28, 2021

Biden Administration predicted liquid fuel for cars to outlast 2050

If Your Time is short

  • U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, tweeted that four out of five new cars in 2050 will still require liquid fuels, and that the projection contradicts an Oct. 5 statement from President Joe Biden touting electric as an energy source for automobiles. 
  • The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 2021 Annual Energy Outlook report states that a majority, 79%, of vehicles will have liquid fuel by 2050.
  • Ethanol consumption is important in Iowa because the state leads the nation in ethanol production.

President Joe Biden was in Michigan’s auto industry hub on Oct. 5 when he said, "the whole world knows that the future of the auto industry is electric." Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, had a quick response, writing on Twitter:

".@POTUS no it’s not — in fact, your own administration published a study concluding 4/5 new cars on the road by 2050 will still require liquid fuels ...

"It’s past time Biden lives up to his promise to expand clean-burning #biofuels. Don’t mess with the RFS!"

Feenstra is correct about the share of cars in the United States projected to use liquid fuels. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 2021 Annual Energy Outlook report, which projects the nation’s environmental plans through 2050, says about 79% of new vehicle sales will be powered by liquid fuels — gasoline and blends that include up to 85% ethanol — in 2050. They accounted for 95% of sales in 2020, the report states.

PolitiFact contacted Feenstra’s communications staff over 10 times for comment but did not receive a response. However, Feenstra’s tweet shared the link to his sourcing, and on page 15, the federal report notes that, while electric energy’s biggest demand growth area is transportation, the share will be small — less than 3%:

"Current laws and regulations are not projected to induce much market growth, despite continuing improvements in electric vehicles (EVs) through evolutionary market developments. Both vehicle sales and utilization (miles driven) would need to increase substantially for EVs to raise electric power demand growth rates by more than a fraction of a percentage point per year."

And, on the report’s page 26:

"Because most light-duty vehicles have internal combustion engines, motor gasoline remains the major transportation fuel through 2050 as personal travel returns to pre-pandemic per-driver levels in the longer term." 

Featured Fact-check

While 2050 is 29 years down the road, Biden did not state in Michigan a time limit on when he thinks electric power would come close to liquid fuels’ share of the automobile market. Nor did he state in detail what that future for electric power for automobiles would be.

His administration’s Annual Energy Outlook reports that it is not predicting future energy use; rather it is a projection based on assumptions and methodologies that can be changed when subjected to changes in technology, demographics and resources. The report also notes that it is a response to the Department of Energy Organization Act of 1977. That law requires the U.S. Energy Information Administration to produce annual reports on trends and projections for energy use and supply, the report notes.

But Feenstra was precise with his facts, and is not alone reminding Biden to support biofuels. Other Iowa congressional members, Republican and Democrat, have pushed for biofuels support, regardless of who is president. So has the biofuels industry. The reason? Iowa leads the nation when it comes to producing biofuels from farm crops. It has capacity to produce 4.6 billion gallons, double the 2.3 billion in the No. 2 state, Nebraska.

While we focused this story on predicted biofuels use in vehicles, it’s worth noting that Biden promised support for biofuels in a Sept. 9, 2020, campaign statement that criticized a pre-election policy reversal by then-President Donald Trump on biofuels. Trump’s reversal led to his administration’s rejection of oil refinery industry requests to be exempt from requirements to blend certain amounts of ethanol and biodiesel in gasoline:

"A Biden-Harris Administration will fight for family farmers and revitalize rural economies — from keeping our promises to farmers by ushering in a new era of biofuels, to investing in the broadband infrastructure and rural health care access that families and communities need," the Biden statement read.

Trump reversed course again and approved on Jan. 19, 2021, just before leaving office, three biofuel waivers for refineries.

Our ruling

Feenstra said the Biden Administration predicts that four out of five new cars on the road will require liquid fuels in 2050 and he cites the source. That source, a report from the Biden Administration, states that 79% of vehicles on the road will require liquid fuels by 2050. 

We rate Feenstra’s statement to be True. 

Our Sources

Twitter, Rep. Randy Feenstra, Oct. 5, 2021 

Twitter, Jennifer Jacobs, Oct. 5, 2021 

U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook 2021, 2021

The Des Moines Register"With rural voters’ support at risk, Trump administration backs most ethanol mandates," by Donnelle Eller, Sept. 14, 2020

Biden-Harris campaign, "Statement by VP Biden on standing with farmers & biofuels producers after Trump’s latest insult to ethanol industry," Sept. 15, 2020

Reuters, "U.S. EPA grants three biofuel waivers to refiners before Trump leaves office," Jan. 19, 2021

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks news release, "Miller-Meeks Urges President Biden to Keep Promises to Biofuels Producers, Sept. 22, 2021

Biomass Magazine, "Iowa lawmakers urge Biden to prioritize biofuels," by Erin Voegele, May 25, 2021

Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network, "Iowa lawmakers holding President Biden to his biofuels promise," by Riley Smith, May 31, 2021 

Des Moines Register, "U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne pushes to include ethanol measures in $2 trillion infrastructure deal," by Brianne Pfannenstiel, April 21, 2021

Biofuels International, "Ad campaign urges Biden not to make RFS U-turn," Aug. 13, 2021, "EIA releases plant-level U.S. biofuels production capacity data," Sept. 13, 2021

U.S. Energy Information Administration, "U.S. Fuel Ethanol Plant Production Capacity," Sept. 3, 2021

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More by Sabine Martin

Biden Administration predicted liquid fuel for cars to outlast 2050

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