As President Obama speaks out against climate change at the 21st session of the Conference of Parties, or COP21, his administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is doubling down on ethanol mandates, a supposedly environmental policy that actually raises emissions.
After much anticipation, today the EPA released its final word on the 2014, 2015 and 2016 renewable volume obligations (RVO) required by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). According to EPA’s statement on the matter, the final 2016 standard for conventional biofuel, or corn-based ethanol, is 14.5 billion gallons, 500 million gallons less than the mandated requirement. Despite the fact that this amount is well below statutory obligations, forcing 14.5 billion gallons of corn ethanol into the fuel supply next year will have far-reaching effects—breaching the fuel blend wall next year, potentially spiking gas prices. The kicker? Corn ethanol produced at this scale actually raises emissions, and does the environment more harm than good.
While the EPA is slowing the momentum toward crisis by not meeting the biofuel levels initially mandated by the RFS, it is clear a true course reversal is what’s needed. And that requires Congress. Without significant alterations to the RFS legislation itself, harmful greenhouse gas emissions will continue to rise, food prices will continue to climb and families around the world will continue to feel the economic strain caused by increased ethanol production.
We’re not the only ones disappointed in the EPA’s decision. See what our partners have to say:
If you’re outraged that Congress is punting its work to the EPA and letting RFS problems fester, speak up! Tell your Representative that these RVOs are further proof that it’s time to reform or repeal the RFS.