Last week, more than 2,500 people gathered in Orlando for the Republican Party of Florida's Sunshine Summit, a two-day event designed to bring presidential candidates and local elected officials together to meet voters and discuss their visions for Florida and the nation. A Florida contingent from the Smarter Fuel Future team was in the middle of the action.
The federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was one of many economic and environmental issues that came up in these discussions. Attendees wanted to know where candidates stood on the policy and whether, if elected, they’d reform or repeal it for good. While some, such as former Senator Rick Santorum, were firm in their support for the RFS, others like Florida Senator Marco Rubio mentioned to more than one attendee that he would like to “phase out” the policy over time. That’s an encouraging step, but many attendees were hoping for more.
After hearing numerous Floridians explain the negative impacts of ethanol mandates, we hope it became clear to the candidates that something needs to be done.
Because the RFS mandates that ethanol be blended into the American fuel supply, ethanol-free gas is harder and harder to come by. That means boaters and other vehicle owners in Florida and around the country are forced to fill their tanks with ethanol-laced fuel like E10 and, in some areas, E15. Despite claims to the contrary, fuel that contains more than 10 percent ethanol is both inefficient and potentially damaging to engines. In a state like Florida, with over 15 million vehicles and hundreds of thousands of boats, the cumulative cost and risk of engine damage adds up quickly.
Many Summit attendees spoke with members of the media about how they’ve already had to shell out hundreds of dollars for expensive engine repairs due to ethanol corrosion. A recent national BoatUS poll backs them up, finding that more than half of all surveyed boaters have had to replace or repair their boat engine or fuel system at an average price of $1,000.
When will our elected officials realize that enough is enough? And when will they realize that voters are watching to see how they handle this policy?
Florida’s local leaders have taken the first step and repealed the state’s own version of the RFS. But the federal policy is still in effect, and it’s going to take Congress working with this president or the next to change it. Lawmakers in Washington and candidates for the presidency need to know we won’t stand for this broken mandate anymore—ask them to reform the RFS today.