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Friday RFS Roundup – 10/24

Discussion this week focused on the diversity in challenges and consequences facing the ethanol mandate from environmental damage to low consumer demand for biofuels.

More from this week:

Will Biofuels Be Better For Plastics Than For Vehicle Fuel?:

In Short: “Increased ethanol production is required to meet government mandates, but low demand for the fuel from consumers is leading companies now in production to seek out other uses for their alcohol fuel.”

EPA’s Sleight of Hand on Cellulosic Fuel Rule Change:

In Short: “Unfortunately, the EPA, which was created to protect the nation’s land, water, and air from pollution, has become a politicized propaganda instrument for the administration’s biofuels agenda, and is intent on pushing an RFS policy that is undermining its institutional mandates in addition to harming Americans more directly.”

Corn Belt Pollution: Louisiana Shrimp And Oysters Pay The Price:

In Short: “Nitrogen run-off from the nation’s booming Corn Belt is the single largest source of nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River basin, which drains a stunning 41 percent of the waterways in the contiguous United States. Massive amounts of water, sediment and nutrients wash off cornfields from as far away as Minnesota, enter the Mississippi River system, and eventually reach the Gulf. The problem may worsen if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raises the ethanol mandate for blended gasoline next month—despite earlier commitments to reduce it. Fully one-third of corn grown in the U.S. already goes to ethanol refiners today, and that number could climb.”

What it means to “Grow Ethanol”

On a recent trip to Indiana, President Obama offhandedly mentioned that “growing” ethanol is one way to put rural Americans back to work. Unfortunately for us, ethanol doesn’t grow on trees and turning the crop from food to fuel actually requires a great deal of effort and resources.

The Renewable Fuel Standard (known as the ethanol mandate) is a government mandate to fill our gas tanks with biofuels. The policy was supposed to be better for the environment than traditional gasoline and a way to increase demand, and therefore prices, for American farmers. 

But in fact, multiple government and academic studies have found that it actually does more harm than good to the environment and the rural economies it was supposed to bolster.

Here’s how:

Environmental Damage

Corn uses the most fertilizer of all major U.S. crops—more than half of all commercial fertilizer applied to U.S. cropland (195 pounds of fertilizer per acre of corn). Nitrous oxide (N2O), a greenhouse gas that is released from the fertilizers used to grow corn, has 298 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide and is the single largest source of pollution to the Gulf of Mexico’s “dead zone” and the second largest source of impairments to wetlands.

To refine corn into one gallon of E10, a 10% ethanol mixture that is standard today but not enough to continue meeting the mandate, requires 170 gallons of water versus the five gallons that gasoline requires.

Not to mention, when considering the full lifecycle, corn-based ethanol nearly doubles GHG emissions over 30 years and increases greenhouse gases for 167 years.

Rural Economies

While mandating ethanol has been good for ethanol producers, the policy has negatively impacted the livestock farmers and ranchers who rely on reasonable corn prices for animal feed. This has contributed to the closing of more than 60,000 pork, poultry and beef operations since 2007, when the policy was expanded.

Animal agriculture supports 20 times more jobs than the ethanol industry, so a policy that favors ethanol over food production hurts our economy.

While it’s true that right now corn prices are low, the Environmental Protection Agency — charged with making reasonable adjustments to the mandate annually — is more than ten months late in finalizing the 2014 mandate, which causes the kind of instability in the corn market that hurts everyone, corn and livestock farmers alike.

And cellulosic ethanol plants haven’t yet materialized as the rural job creators once hoped for. The federal government has spent hundreds of millions to prop up the cellulosic industry, yet many of the companies that received those funds have since gone out of business.

Forcing ethanol into our fuel supply damages both the American economy and our environment. Tell Congress to take action on this failing policy.

Friday RFS Roundup – 10/17

Earlier this week, a group of more than 30 oil refining executives wrote to the White House encouraging President Obama to lower the mandated levels of ethanol under the Renewable Fuel Standard. While the rule is currently awaiting final approval from the Office of Management and Budget, consumers are fearful as the potential for higher ethanol levels could lead to greater engine damage, increased food costs and rising gas prices.

More from this week:

•  Reuters: U.S. gas station constraints complicate 2014 biofuel mandate: officials:

In Short: “Refiners on Tuesday wrote to the White House, arguing against raising the proposed requirements for using ethanol and biodiesel in U.S. fuel supplies so close to year-end.”The Obama administration is trying to balance its support for renewable fuels with awareness of infrastructure constraints at gas stations as it finalizes targets for 2014 biofuel use, agency officials said on Tuesday."

Fuel Fix: Refiners to Obama: Keep renewable fuel quotas down:

In Short: “Refiners on Tuesday implored President Barack Obama to hold firm on plans to scale back renewable fuel quotas for 2014, warning that if the administration gives in to Corn Belt demands for higher mandates, it could cause gasoline prices to spike."

'Now is not the time to backtrack on a proposal to avoid economic disruption,' 31 refining executives said in a letter to Obama.  'Technological and market limitations exist, and consumers — not the federal government — should determine what goes in their cars.'”

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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.

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Smarter Fuel Future Advocates’ Ethanol Warning Labels

From Barbara T.



From Bill S.



From Bradford T.



From David A.



From Dudley D.



From Edward G.



From Franklin M.



From Howard S.



From Linda R.



From Lisa W.



From Lucinda S.



From Marilyn L.



From Mary O.



From Mike R.



From Patricia C.



Phillip R.



From Tom K.



From Walter E.



From William T.
 

 

Comparing the Ethanol Mandate with Projected Ethanol Demand

Consumer Price Index Since Ethanol Mandate

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Friday RFS Roundup – 10/24

Discussion this week focused on the diversity in challenges and consequences facing the ethanol mandate from environmental damage to low consumer demand for biofuels.

More from this week:

Will Biofuels Be Better For Plastics Than For Vehicle Fuel?:

In Short: “Increased ethanol production is required to meet government mandates, but low demand for the fuel from consumers is leading companies now in production to seek out other uses for their alcohol fuel.”

EPA’s Sleight of Hand on Cellulosic Fuel Rule Change:

In Short: “Unfortunately, the EPA, which was created to protect the nation’s land, water, and air from pollution, has become a politicized propaganda instrument for the administration’s biofuels agenda, and is intent on pushing an RFS policy that is undermining its institutional mandates in addition to harming Americans more directly.”

Corn Belt Pollution: Louisiana Shrimp And Oysters Pay The Price:

In Short: “Nitrogen run-off from the nation’s booming Corn Belt is the single largest source of nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River basin, which drains a stunning 41 percent of the waterways in the contiguous United States. Massive amounts of water, sediment and nutrients wash off cornfields from as far away as Minnesota, enter the Mississippi River system, and eventually reach the Gulf. The problem may worsen if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raises the ethanol mandate for blended gasoline next month—despite earlier commitments to reduce it. Fully one-third of corn grown in the U.S. already goes to ethanol refiners today, and that number could climb.”

Corn Ethanol is Not a Renewable Fuel

Broken Promises of the Ethanol Mandate

Show More
Friday RFS Roundup – 10/24

Discussion this week focused on the diversity in challenges and consequences facing the ethanol mandate from environmental damage to low consumer demand for biofuels.

More from this week:

Will Biofuels Be Better For Plastics Than For Vehicle Fuel?:

In Short: “Increased ethanol production is required to meet government mandates, but low demand for the fuel from consumers is leading companies now in production to seek out other uses for their alcohol fuel.”

EPA’s Sleight of Hand on Cellulosic Fuel Rule Change:

In Short: “Unfortunately, the EPA, which was created to protect the nation’s land, water, and air from pollution, has become a politicized propaganda instrument for the administration’s biofuels agenda, and is intent on pushing an RFS policy that is undermining its institutional mandates in addition to harming Americans more directly.”

Corn Belt Pollution: Louisiana Shrimp And Oysters Pay The Price:

In Short: “Nitrogen run-off from the nation’s booming Corn Belt is the single largest source of nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River basin, which drains a stunning 41 percent of the waterways in the contiguous United States. Massive amounts of water, sediment and nutrients wash off cornfields from as far away as Minnesota, enter the Mississippi River system, and eventually reach the Gulf. The problem may worsen if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raises the ethanol mandate for blended gasoline next month—despite earlier commitments to reduce it. Fully one-third of corn grown in the U.S. already goes to ethanol refiners today, and that number could climb.”

What it means to “Grow Ethanol”

On a recent trip to Indiana, President Obama offhandedly mentioned that “growing” ethanol is one way to put rural Americans back to work. Unfortunately for us, ethanol doesn’t grow on trees and turning the crop from food to fuel actually requires a great deal of effort and resources.

The Renewable Fuel Standard (known as the ethanol mandate) is a government mandate to fill our gas tanks with biofuels. The policy was supposed to be better for the environment than traditional gasoline and a way to increase demand, and therefore prices, for American farmers. 

But in fact, multiple government and academic studies have found that it actually does more harm than good to the environment and the rural economies it was supposed to bolster.

Here’s how:

Environmental Damage

Corn uses the most fertilizer of all major U.S. crops—more than half of all commercial fertilizer applied to U.S. cropland (195 pounds of fertilizer per acre of corn). Nitrous oxide (N2O), a greenhouse gas that is released from the fertilizers used to grow corn, has 298 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide and is the single largest source of pollution to the Gulf of Mexico’s “dead zone” and the second largest source of impairments to wetlands.

To refine corn into one gallon of E10, a 10% ethanol mixture that is standard today but not enough to continue meeting the mandate, requires 170 gallons of water versus the five gallons that gasoline requires.

Not to mention, when considering the full lifecycle, corn-based ethanol nearly doubles GHG emissions over 30 years and increases greenhouse gases for 167 years.

Rural Economies

While mandating ethanol has been good for ethanol producers, the policy has negatively impacted the livestock farmers and ranchers who rely on reasonable corn prices for animal feed. This has contributed to the closing of more than 60,000 pork, poultry and beef operations since 2007, when the policy was expanded.

Animal agriculture supports 20 times more jobs than the ethanol industry, so a policy that favors ethanol over food production hurts our economy.

While it’s true that right now corn prices are low, the Environmental Protection Agency — charged with making reasonable adjustments to the mandate annually — is more than ten months late in finalizing the 2014 mandate, which causes the kind of instability in the corn market that hurts everyone, corn and livestock farmers alike.

And cellulosic ethanol plants haven’t yet materialized as the rural job creators once hoped for. The federal government has spent hundreds of millions to prop up the cellulosic industry, yet many of the companies that received those funds have since gone out of business.

Forcing ethanol into our fuel supply damages both the American economy and our environment. Tell Congress to take action on this failing policy.

Friday RFS Roundup – 10/17

Earlier this week, a group of more than 30 oil refining executives wrote to the White House encouraging President Obama to lower the mandated levels of ethanol under the Renewable Fuel Standard. While the rule is currently awaiting final approval from the Office of Management and Budget, consumers are fearful as the potential for higher ethanol levels could lead to greater engine damage, increased food costs and rising gas prices.

More from this week:

•  Reuters: U.S. gas station constraints complicate 2014 biofuel mandate: officials:

In Short: “Refiners on Tuesday wrote to the White House, arguing against raising the proposed requirements for using ethanol and biodiesel in U.S. fuel supplies so close to year-end.”The Obama administration is trying to balance its support for renewable fuels with awareness of infrastructure constraints at gas stations as it finalizes targets for 2014 biofuel use, agency officials said on Tuesday."

Fuel Fix: Refiners to Obama: Keep renewable fuel quotas down:

In Short: “Refiners on Tuesday implored President Barack Obama to hold firm on plans to scale back renewable fuel quotas for 2014, warning that if the administration gives in to Corn Belt demands for higher mandates, it could cause gasoline prices to spike."

'Now is not the time to backtrack on a proposal to avoid economic disruption,' 31 refining executives said in a letter to Obama.  'Technological and market limitations exist, and consumers — not the federal government — should determine what goes in their cars.'”

Show More