Recent Updates

Friday RFS Roundup – 4/11

From food riots and revolutions to gas prices and pump labeling, the implications of ethanol are far and wide. In this week’s news roundup, we look at the diverse effects of the RFS, and the ways in which ethanol mandates affect not only the United States, but also those around the world.

  • Platts, “Maddening” US ethanol prices mimic RINs volatility: What better way to understand ethanol RINs (Renewable Identification Numbers) than by comparing them to high school politics? And Platts could not have depicted a more accurate picture of this “wacky” market by doing so. As RINs continue to play an increasing role skewing the marketplace, we are seeing an effect on gas prices and can expect “explosive volatility” at the pump this driving season.

In Short: “US ethanol prices in 2014 have become what RINs were in 2013 — volatile and downright wacky. In the opening three months of 2013, biofuels RINs went from the nerdy kid in freshman biology to a menacing and eccentric upper-classman that scared all the other kids in the cafeteria.”

  • Courthouse News Service, FTC to Require Detailed Alternative-Fuel Labels: Much like the warning labels we see on electric devices, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has proposed “new labeling requirements for blended gasoline to help consumers find the correct fuel for their cars.” With the devastating effects that ethanol can have on your vehicle and other small engines, consumers need to know what they are putting in their engines to avoid impending damage.

In Short: “The proposed labels would also contain the disclosures "may harm some vehicles" and "check owner's manual," because cars continue to have varying ethanol tolerances, which require more precise disclosure, according to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which was quoted in the action.”

  • MarketWatch, Ethanol price spike means you pay more for gasoline: Just in time for this summer’s driving season, gas prices are on the rise! While ethanol proponents tout its ability to lower gas prices, it’s actually increasing the cost per gallon to our fuel supply. We see this correlating relationship as consumer gasoline prices continue to rise and fall with ethanol’s price. Per the report, ethanol prices shot up 22% in March.

In Short: “Blending a $4-a-gallon product (ethanol) with a $2.50-a-gallon product (gasoline) has resulted in increases in the price of finished motor fuel, Kloza said, adding that high-priced ethanol has added about 10 cents a gallon or more to gas prices in recent weeks.”

  • Slate, A Revolution Marches on Its Stomach: In this Slate analysis, author Joshua Keating highlights the varying indicators of global unrest with one being the price of grain. To meet the growing demand of ethanol and other such biofuels, many countries, including the United States, divert food resources – corn and grain – to meet those government mandated levels.  As Keating notes, this is having a tremendous effect on worldwide stability.

In Short: “The United States as a whole grows more soybeans than China. And due to generous federal subsidies for ethanol, the United States isn’t even growing nearly the amount of food it could. Forty percent of our corn is going into fuel.”

A Coalition Against Bad Policy

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again… the ethanol mandate is everyone’s problem.

Oil refiners do oppose the ethanol mandate (primarily because of the looming blend wall), but they are hardly the only ones who take issue with the policy. Environmentalists, taxpayers, food producers, consumer protection groups of all types, anti-hunger advocates and even farmers have all spoken out against the RFS.

This year alone, our coalition has joined arms with even more poultry farmers who are struggling to feed their flocks due to the skyrocketing price of feed; gasoline retailers forced to stock a fuel that consumers neither know about nor want; and outdoor equipment groups grappling to find fuel that won’t damage their small engines.

On Thursday, April 10, Congressman Pete Welch (D-VT), Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group, Rob Green of the National Council of Chain Restaurants and others will discuss how the ethanol mandate is impacting all Americans in an event hosted by The Hill Magazine in Washington, DC. You can watch the event on The Hill’s website or join the conversation on Twitter using #TheHillLive and #RFS2014.

How Much Are You Prepared to Pay For a Non-Existent Product?

As the most promising advanced biofuels producer in the U.S. narrowly escapes bankruptcy — again — the Senate is considering a plan to continue subsidizing the nonexistent fuel.

On Thursday, April 3, a bill known as the EXPIRE Act made its way out of the Senate Finance Committee. If passed, the EXPIRE Act would renew a slew of energy tax credits slated to expire, including the extension of the $1.01 tax credit for any cellulosic biofuel produced through 2015 — a measure that could cost taxpayers another $55 million.

The problem here remains the inability of advanced biofuels companies, like KiOR — the aforementioned near-failed company — to actually bring those fuels to market.

This chart compares the level of advanced biofuels the EPA expected (and mandated) be produced and the reality of the current market. There isn’t enough production for consumers to actually notice, let alone meet the mandate, and yet the ongoing cost of supporting the biofuel industry through mandates and subsidies is estimated at almost $160 billion from 2008 to 2022.

Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator, said in a hearing on March 27, the “goal of the Renewable Fuel Standard” is “to get to advanced and cellulosic.” Yet, according to government Energy Information Administration, as far out as 2040 it is unlikely that we’ll be anywhere close to the mandated level of cellulosics.

That’s right, even the government predicts we won’t be able to meet the government’s own mandate. That makes sense.

With advanced biofuel producers on the brink of complete failure, the real winners of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) are land-grabbing corn ethanol producers who continue to rake in record-high profits at the expense of American consumers. Despite being widely discredited as an environmentally-friendly fuel, corn ethanol continues to meet more than 80 percent of the RFS mandate.

Unfortunately, the technology simply does not yet exist to produce the amounts of advanced biofuels needed in today’s market and continuing to mandate ethanol production is driving us farther away from our goals.

Tell McCarthy and the EPA: lower the mandate and stop protecting dirty corn.

Show More

Legislative Updates will be coming soon.

A Coalition Against Bad Policy

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again… the ethanol mandate is everyone’s problem.

Oil refiners do oppose the ethanol mandate (primarily because of the looming blend wall), but they are hardly the only ones who take issue with the policy. Environmentalists, taxpayers, food producers, consumer protection groups of all types, anti-hunger advocates and even farmers have all spoken out against the RFS.

This year alone, our coalition has joined arms with even more poultry farmers who are struggling to feed their flocks due to the skyrocketing price of feed; gasoline retailers forced to stock a fuel that consumers neither know about nor want; and outdoor equipment groups grappling to find fuel that won’t damage their small engines.

On Thursday, April 10, Congressman Pete Welch (D-VT), Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group, Rob Green of the National Council of Chain Restaurants and others will discuss how the ethanol mandate is impacting all Americans in an event hosted by The Hill Magazine in Washington, DC. You can watch the event on The Hill’s website or join the conversation on Twitter using #TheHillLive and #RFS2014.

The price you pay

NBC Nightly News shone a light this week on rising food prices that are impacting consumers across the United States.

While Brian Williams and the gang focused on the drought in California, it is important to note that these recent price increases are part of a longer-term trend.  Beef, poultry, milk and cheese prices have all been on the rise for nearly a decade—in fact, food prices are up 17.8 percent.

With the introduction of the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2005, the demand for ethanol increased making it more and more difficult for ranchers to feed their herds. By increasing the competition for and price of corn, the ethanol mandate has unintentionally been driving up the cost at the grocery store. By 2022, the RFS will increase food costs for Americans by $3 billion—annually—according to the Congressional Research Service.

And now the drought, which has been affecting various parts of the country since 2012, is making what is already bad, worse.

We can’t change the weather, but we can make changes to this failing policy. Tell Congress it’s time for a real solution.

Ghosts of Ethanol Past, Present and Future

In the holiday classic A Christmas Carol, the cold-hearted, greedy Ebenezer Scrooge is given a glimpse at his Christmas past, present and future. In our version of the story, we’re going to let you peek at ethanol’s ghosts.

Ethanol Past

While opposition to the Renewable Fuel Standard (the government’s ethanol mandates policy)is growing today, some have been wary of diverting food to fuel for decades. An article published by Nicholas Wade in 1979 reveals some of the early concerns:

“The rule of thumb in Iowa is that a 1 percent decrease in corn supply raises corn prices by 2 percent.”

Yet today, we divert more than 40 percent of our corn crops to ethanol, and we’ve felt the results in corn prices from the butcher to the baker.

Further, government has been subsidizing “gasohol” for years. In 1979, the going rate was 40 cents per gallon of E10 (a fuel blend containing ten percent ethanol).

And the final lesson from the ghost of ethanol past is this: we’ve been hoping for cellulosic biofuels forever. More on that later…

Ethanol Present

Unfortunately, the realities of today’s ethanol mandate (the RFS) are no better. Refiners, environmentalists, ranchers, world hunger groups, wildlife advocates, journalists and even the Environmental Protection Agency all take issue with one part of the policy or another.

Ethanol Future

All wounds heal with time, right? Actually, no, according to Energy Information Administration. Despite   the ethanol lobby promising that cellulosic (non-corn) biofuels are “just around the corner,” the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) annual American Energy Outlook report tells us that even by 2040, it is unlikely that we’ll be anywhere close to the mandated level of cellulosics.

This means decades more subsidies for the industry and continued reliance on corn to meet the ethanol mandate.

Just like Scrooge, it’s time for Congress to see the error in its ways.

Tell your Congressman to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Show More
Is your daily driver a race car?

During this weekend’s Daytona 500, you may see and hear a lot about how NASCAR runs on E15, a blend of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol — 50 percent more than in traditional gas. Big ethanol will try to use this as an opportunity to tout the benefits of E15 and lobby for its expanded use as an answer to the blend wall.

Unfortunately, your car’s engine likely doesn’t have a lot in common with NASCAR engines, which is where the problems arise. NASCAR teams specifically build engines to run on higher ethanol blends. Beyond that, the engines are rebuilt after every race. Unless you’re rebuilding your engine every day, you should probably take stock of the differences.

According to AAA, 95 percent of automobiles on the road today aren’t designed to run on gasoline that contains more than 10 percent ethanol.

The chart above shows where your car might shake out. If you drive a flex-fuel vehicle(FFV) or a Porsche, go ahead and fill ‘er up with E15, but beware of the lower fuel economy that comes with it.

If you don’t drive a FFV and you fill up using E15, you risk damaging your engine, which may or may not be covered by your warranty.

Luckily, E15 blends are currently only being sold at about 60 gas stations in 12 states, but the EPA has approved its sale across the country.

The simple fact is that outside of a minority of cars on the road today — supercharged NASCAR stock cars — E15 is a blend that isn’t the right fit for Americans. The EPA is currently considering making changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard, which is the right first step in creating a smarter fuel future for America. Tell Congress to take action on the RFS today.

NYR Image

Ghosts of Ethanol Past, Present and Future

In the holiday classic A Christmas Carol, the cold-hearted, greedy Ebenezer Scrooge is given a glimpse at his Christmas past, present and future. In our version of the story, we’re going to let you peek at ethanol’s ghosts.

Ethanol Past

While opposition to the Renewable Fuel Standard (the government’s ethanol mandates policy)is growing today, some have been wary of diverting food to fuel for decades. An article published by Nicholas Wade in 1979 reveals some of the early concerns:

“The rule of thumb in Iowa is that a 1 percent decrease in corn supply raises corn prices by 2 percent.”

Yet today, we divert more than 40 percent of our corn crops to ethanol, and we’ve felt the results in corn prices from the butcher to the baker.

Further, government has been subsidizing “gasohol” for years. In 1979, the going rate was 40 cents per gallon of E10 (a fuel blend containing ten percent ethanol).

And the final lesson from the ghost of ethanol past is this: we’ve been hoping for cellulosic biofuels forever. More on that later…

Ethanol Present

Unfortunately, the realities of today’s ethanol mandate (the RFS) are no better. Refiners, environmentalists, ranchers, world hunger groups, wildlife advocates, journalists and even the Environmental Protection Agency all take issue with one part of the policy or another.

Ethanol Future

All wounds heal with time, right? Actually, no, according to Energy Information Administration. Despite   the ethanol lobby promising that cellulosic (non-corn) biofuels are “just around the corner,” the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) annual American Energy Outlook report tells us that even by 2040, it is unlikely that we’ll be anywhere close to the mandated level of cellulosics.

This means decades more subsidies for the industry and continued reliance on corn to meet the ethanol mandate.

Just like Scrooge, it’s time for Congress to see the error in its ways.

Tell your Congressman to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Show More
State of the Union BINGO

Tonight President Obama will address the joint houses of Congress, as well as the American people, setting the agenda for the executive branch for the coming year.

For those in DC, it’s a big night out, but if you’d like to play along at home while watching the State of the Union, we’re happy to oblige.

Download our SOTU Bingo cards and every time President Obama mentions an RFS consequence or something political ridiculous happens, mark your card!

Also – today is the last day for you to tell the EPA to lower the ethanol mandate. Make sure you tell the EPA you support lowering the mandate!

Bedfellows Coalition Letter to the House of Representatives Energy & Commerce Committee

Letter of Concerns to the Energy and Commerce Committee

On Oct. 7, a diverse group of agriculture, business, environment, food retail, hunger, taxpayer, and public interest groups petitioned Congress demanding reform of the Renewable Fuel Standard. The group asked that "any legislation that the Committee considers recognizes and addresses the havoc that the corn ethanol mandate has placed on the multitude of stakeholder interests represented on this letter."

The signers included:

Action Aid USA
American Frozen Food Institute
American Meat Institute
American Sportfishing Association
Boat US
California Dairy Campaign
California Poultry Federation
Clean Air Task Force
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Dairy Producers of New Mexico
Dairy Producers of Utah
Environmental Working Group
Freedom Action
Friends of the Earth
Idaho Dairymen’s Association
Indiana State Poultry Association
Iowa Turkey Federation
Marine Retailers Association of the Americas
Michigan Allied Poultry, Inc.
Milk Producers Council
Minnesota Turkey Growers Association
National Chicken Council
National Council of Chain Restaurants
National Marine Manufacturers Association
National Restaurant Association
National Taxpayers Union
National Turkey Federation
Nevada State Dairy Commission
Northwest Dairy Association
North American Meat Association
North Carolina Poultry Federation
Oregon Dairy Farmers Association
Oxfam America
Southeast Milk, Inc.
Specialty Equipment Market Association
Taxpayers for Common Sense
Texas Egg Council
Texas Broiler Council
Texas Poultry Federation
Texas Turkey Federation
The Poultry Federation
Virginia Poultry Federation
Washington State Dairy Federation
Wisconsin Poultry & Egg Industries Association

Show More
Friday RFS Roundup – 4/11

From food riots and revolutions to gas prices and pump labeling, the implications of ethanol are far and wide. In this week’s news roundup, we look at the diverse effects of the RFS, and the ways in which ethanol mandates affect not only the United States, but also those around the world.

  • Platts, “Maddening” US ethanol prices mimic RINs volatility: What better way to understand ethanol RINs (Renewable Identification Numbers) than by comparing them to high school politics? And Platts could not have depicted a more accurate picture of this “wacky” market by doing so. As RINs continue to play an increasing role skewing the marketplace, we are seeing an effect on gas prices and can expect “explosive volatility” at the pump this driving season.

In Short: “US ethanol prices in 2014 have become what RINs were in 2013 — volatile and downright wacky. In the opening three months of 2013, biofuels RINs went from the nerdy kid in freshman biology to a menacing and eccentric upper-classman that scared all the other kids in the cafeteria.”

  • Courthouse News Service, FTC to Require Detailed Alternative-Fuel Labels: Much like the warning labels we see on electric devices, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has proposed “new labeling requirements for blended gasoline to help consumers find the correct fuel for their cars.” With the devastating effects that ethanol can have on your vehicle and other small engines, consumers need to know what they are putting in their engines to avoid impending damage.

In Short: “The proposed labels would also contain the disclosures "may harm some vehicles" and "check owner's manual," because cars continue to have varying ethanol tolerances, which require more precise disclosure, according to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which was quoted in the action.”

  • MarketWatch, Ethanol price spike means you pay more for gasoline: Just in time for this summer’s driving season, gas prices are on the rise! While ethanol proponents tout its ability to lower gas prices, it’s actually increasing the cost per gallon to our fuel supply. We see this correlating relationship as consumer gasoline prices continue to rise and fall with ethanol’s price. Per the report, ethanol prices shot up 22% in March.

In Short: “Blending a $4-a-gallon product (ethanol) with a $2.50-a-gallon product (gasoline) has resulted in increases in the price of finished motor fuel, Kloza said, adding that high-priced ethanol has added about 10 cents a gallon or more to gas prices in recent weeks.”

  • Slate, A Revolution Marches on Its Stomach: In this Slate analysis, author Joshua Keating highlights the varying indicators of global unrest with one being the price of grain. To meet the growing demand of ethanol and other such biofuels, many countries, including the United States, divert food resources – corn and grain – to meet those government mandated levels.  As Keating notes, this is having a tremendous effect on worldwide stability.

In Short: “The United States as a whole grows more soybeans than China. And due to generous federal subsidies for ethanol, the United States isn’t even growing nearly the amount of food it could. Forty percent of our corn is going into fuel.”

A Coalition Against Bad Policy

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again… the ethanol mandate is everyone’s problem.

Oil refiners do oppose the ethanol mandate (primarily because of the looming blend wall), but they are hardly the only ones who take issue with the policy. Environmentalists, taxpayers, food producers, consumer protection groups of all types, anti-hunger advocates and even farmers have all spoken out against the RFS.

This year alone, our coalition has joined arms with even more poultry farmers who are struggling to feed their flocks due to the skyrocketing price of feed; gasoline retailers forced to stock a fuel that consumers neither know about nor want; and outdoor equipment groups grappling to find fuel that won’t damage their small engines.

On Thursday, April 10, Congressman Pete Welch (D-VT), Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group, Rob Green of the National Council of Chain Restaurants and others will discuss how the ethanol mandate is impacting all Americans in an event hosted by The Hill Magazine in Washington, DC. You can watch the event on The Hill’s website or join the conversation on Twitter using #TheHillLive and #RFS2014.

How Much Are You Prepared to Pay For a Non-Existent Product?

As the most promising advanced biofuels producer in the U.S. narrowly escapes bankruptcy — again — the Senate is considering a plan to continue subsidizing the nonexistent fuel.

On Thursday, April 3, a bill known as the EXPIRE Act made its way out of the Senate Finance Committee. If passed, the EXPIRE Act would renew a slew of energy tax credits slated to expire, including the extension of the $1.01 tax credit for any cellulosic biofuel produced through 2015 — a measure that could cost taxpayers another $55 million.

The problem here remains the inability of advanced biofuels companies, like KiOR — the aforementioned near-failed company — to actually bring those fuels to market.

This chart compares the level of advanced biofuels the EPA expected (and mandated) be produced and the reality of the current market. There isn’t enough production for consumers to actually notice, let alone meet the mandate, and yet the ongoing cost of supporting the biofuel industry through mandates and subsidies is estimated at almost $160 billion from 2008 to 2022.

Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator, said in a hearing on March 27, the “goal of the Renewable Fuel Standard” is “to get to advanced and cellulosic.” Yet, according to government Energy Information Administration, as far out as 2040 it is unlikely that we’ll be anywhere close to the mandated level of cellulosics.

That’s right, even the government predicts we won’t be able to meet the government’s own mandate. That makes sense.

With advanced biofuel producers on the brink of complete failure, the real winners of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) are land-grabbing corn ethanol producers who continue to rake in record-high profits at the expense of American consumers. Despite being widely discredited as an environmentally-friendly fuel, corn ethanol continues to meet more than 80 percent of the RFS mandate.

Unfortunately, the technology simply does not yet exist to produce the amounts of advanced biofuels needed in today’s market and continuing to mandate ethanol production is driving us farther away from our goals.

Tell McCarthy and the EPA: lower the mandate and stop protecting dirty corn.

Show More

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