Gazette Xtra: Con: Renewable Fuel Standard subsidies unneeded as sales of cleaner vehicles surge

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October 25, 2013

Mark J. Perry, October 24 - How did we reach the point where the government is promoting a dreadful fuel that gets worse fuel economy than gasoline or diesel, drives up food prices, damages car engines and has unintended environmental consequences?

The Renewable Fuel Standard has come to symbolize everything that is wrong with government-imposed mandates. It is causing more harm than good and should be scrapped.

For years, ethanol was promoted as a renewable, homegrown alternative to gasoline, a way to reduce tailpipe emissions and dependence on imported oil.

In 2007, as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act, Congress adopted the RFS, requiring refiners to blend 13.8 billion gallons of ethanol into gasoline by 2013 and up to 36 billion gallons by 2022. This mandate, however, has become completely unworkable and unnecessary.

Quite simply, ethanol is not the panacea that its promoters claim it is. Let’s start with the fact that the biofuels industry is actually burning large amounts of gasoline to produce ethanol—and the ethanol contains less energy than the gasoline consumed to produce it.

Next consider tailpipe emissions. One of the myths about the ethanol mix—called E10, which is 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline—is that it burns cleaner than gasoline. But ethanol has 27 percent lower fuel economy than gasoline on an energy equivalent basis, hence consumers have to purchase more fuel to drive the same distances.

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