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Friday RFS Roundup – 12/5

As we approach yearend without a 2014 ethanol mandate, discussion this week covers the worries consumers have about the future of our gas prices and food security.

More from this week:

What’s Corn Got to Do With It? World Hunger and America’s Largest Crop:

In Short: “Ethanol has been widely criticized over the years, yet growing corn for fuel is a booming industry. According to NPR, there is more than eight times more ethanol in the U.S. now than there was in 2000; increasing ethanol use is good news for farmers, who often produce more corn than they know what to do with, but bad news for just about everyone else.”

Why gasoline prices are down:

In Short: “Repeal the ethanol mandate. This rule forces refineries to blend increasing amounts of ethanol into gasoline each year, reaching 36 billion gallons in 2022. It’s already driven up fuel and food prices, according to multiple federal-agency and government-backed studies.”

EPA PUNTS AGAIN:

In Short: “So, we will finish the 2014 compliance period without a 2014 RFS final rule. But what does this mean for 2015? At least 2015 does not have elections for the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives. But we know that the Agency will be late again, because the proposal for the 2015 RFS has not yet been sent to OMB for interagency review. Recall that the final rule for the 2015 RFS should be issued by November 30, 2014. EPA expects the 2015 RFS proposal to be issued in May 2015, but RFS tardiness is not new: after all, EPA did not promulgate the 2013 RFS final rule until August 2013. Given these constant stoppages, maybe the title of this blog should actually be “Delay, Delay, Delay, and Delay Some More.””

Forgetting 2014

"We give up."

That's basically what the Environmental Protection Agency said in late November, in announcing that — despite being a year late — they still can't figure out how to set the ethanol mandate for 2014.

The EPA is hurting everyone by creating instability in the corn market, which impacts refiners, corn farmers, livestock producers and consumers together. The EPA’s favorite tactic, delaying the final rule for the 2014 RFS until sometime next year, is further proof that the policy is broken and the agency is no longer a good steward. It is time for Congress to take bipartisan action on the Renewable Fuel Standard instead.

Some say it's politics. Some say it's government bureaucracy gone wrong. Some say it's Big Corn doing whatever it can to protect its profits.

But to us it means more families struggling with the price of food. It's more pain at the pump. It's more environmental damage. It's more hunger. It's more closed farms and harmed businesses. It's more engines put at risk.

Demand reform on the ethanol mandate from your Congressman!

EPA Announces the Rule for 2014 is No Rule At All

More than a year after announcing a plan to lower the ethanol mandate for 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency has decided that the policy is so broken, it is easier to give up than announce a final rule.

EPA said the agency will “take action on the 2014 standards rule in 2015 prior to or in conjunction with action on the 2015 standards rule.” The deadline for 2013 compliance with the rule will take place in 2015, EPA’s notice says.

See how others are reacting to the EPA’s decision and check back for more responses:

Environmental Working Group’s policy analyst Mike Lavender says:
Today's announcement is further evidence that Congress must reform our badly broken food-to-fuel policies. By failing to reduce the amount of corn ethanol blended into gasoline, the Obama administration today missed an opportunity to immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If we hope to reverse climate change, we need greenhouse gas reductions now, not in 2025, and reducing the amount of corn ethanol in gasoline is among the most effective tools at the administration’s disposal. We urge the administration to quickly finalize a RVO that paves the way for truly “green” biofuels."

National Chicken Council President Mike Brown says:
“This seesaw process by which the EPA proposes an up-and-down, now-and-later moving target as the compliance year unfolds leaves poultry and livestock producers unable to plan and budget effectively. While corn prices have moderated, volatility and uncertainty are the true business-killers. On top of all of this, we believed at one time that the original RFS included a workable provision that provided for an ‘off ramp’ in times of economic crisis.  On at least two major occasions – in 2008 and 2012 during catastrophic weather events – that belief has proven false. What more evidence does the administration and Congress need to prove the RFS — and the administration of it — is broken beyond repair? Albert Einstein is said to have observed, ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.’  Today’s announcement is further evidence that our current renewable fuel policy is not only broken, it’s insane.”

House Energy and Commerce Committee's Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and John Shimkus (R-IL) say:
“Businesses and consumers have been waiting a year now for clarity and guidance from EPA, but this decision to completely abandon the 2014 targets only adds to the growing uncertainty and frustration. EPA cannot just choose to arbitrarily ignore the law and the deadlines established by Congress. This unexpected announcement highlights that there are still significant challenges facing the RFS and underscores the need to come together and find a practical, bipartisan solution.”

American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturer’s President Charles T. Drevna says:
“The Obama Administration’s decision to further delay issuing the 2014 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) is a gross dereliction of responsibility that leaves fuel refiners and the biofuels industry alike to navigate a course of ambiguity. Today’s announcement indicates that the Administration plans to continuously mismanage this program in a manner that equates to playing Russian roulette with the nation’s fuel supply at the American consumer’s ultimate expense. The Administration’s inaction demonstrates once again that the non-functioning Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program is irreparably broken. AFPM calls upon Congress to expeditiously resume work on repealing or significantly reforming the RFS. In the meantime, AFPM will seek legal intervention. For three years in a row, the Administration has thumbed its nose at Congress and ignored a crystal clear statutory deadline to issue RVOs by November 30 of the preceding year. For this reason, AFPM today filed a notice of intent to sue EPA over its failure to issue the 2014 RFS regulations, which has languished at the White House Office of Management and Budget since August 22, 2014.”

The National Council of Chain Restaurants’ Executive Director Rob Green says:
“By backtracking on their initial recommendation on the ethanol mandate quota, the White House and EPA have chosen to accommodate a small group of ethanol lobbyists at the expense of American consumers and diners, the nation’s small business restaurant owners and all businesses that support and sustain the food supply chain. This unbelievable non-announcement demonstrates once and for all that the EPA, because of statutory and political considerations, cannot fix the failure of the RFS. Members of Congress should take note. The federal RFS ethanol mandate is irrevocably broken and needs to be repealed immediately. It is time that Congress take the RFS ‘off the menu’ once and for all.”

ActionAid USA’s Director of Policy and Campaigns Kristin Sundell says:
As the Administration stands by this failed policy, today’s decision to leave biofuels targets unchecked means corn for fuel tanks will be prioritized over food for hungry people around the world. It will also make prices for foods such as corn and soya more unstable, hitting poor people in the US and abroad hardest. Poor people around the world should not have to go hungry to produce fuel for our cars and trucks. Congress must act to reform its biofuel mandates.”

National Marine Manufacturers Association says:
“We have serious, well-documented and data-driven concerns with the safety of high ethanol fuel blends which have been proven to cause damage to marine engines. This damage puts consumers at risk and hurts manufacturers during a time of important economic recovery. The RFS is a broken law which sets unrealistic fuel mandates and requires a long term fix from Congress. NMMA strongly encourages Congress to address the issues of the RFS directly through legislation in order to protect consumers and US manufacturers.”

BoatUS Government Affairs Program Manager Nicole Palya Wood says:
“There is solid scientific data that supports levels of ethanol in gasoline over 10% damage marine engines. The EPA’s failure to efficiently administer this program, utilize its waiver authority and set standards that provide protections for consumers sends a clear message that congress must act now to reform the RFS. We were hoping the EPA would utilize their waiver authority to ease the pressure on the nation’s fuel supply with regard to ethanol. Now, with their failure to act, it’s even more critical we work for a Congressional legislative fix which would bring the investment in safer, more compatible renewable fuels, which was what the RFS originally intended.”

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.

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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

Show More
Corn Ethanol is Not a Renewable Fuel

Broken Promises of the Ethanol Mandate

The Real Cost of the Ethanol Mandate

Show More
Friday RFS Roundup – 12/5

As we approach yearend without a 2014 ethanol mandate, discussion this week covers the worries consumers have about the future of our gas prices and food security.

More from this week:

What’s Corn Got to Do With It? World Hunger and America’s Largest Crop:

In Short: “Ethanol has been widely criticized over the years, yet growing corn for fuel is a booming industry. According to NPR, there is more than eight times more ethanol in the U.S. now than there was in 2000; increasing ethanol use is good news for farmers, who often produce more corn than they know what to do with, but bad news for just about everyone else.”

Why gasoline prices are down:

In Short: “Repeal the ethanol mandate. This rule forces refineries to blend increasing amounts of ethanol into gasoline each year, reaching 36 billion gallons in 2022. It’s already driven up fuel and food prices, according to multiple federal-agency and government-backed studies.”

EPA PUNTS AGAIN:

In Short: “So, we will finish the 2014 compliance period without a 2014 RFS final rule. But what does this mean for 2015? At least 2015 does not have elections for the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives. But we know that the Agency will be late again, because the proposal for the 2015 RFS has not yet been sent to OMB for interagency review. Recall that the final rule for the 2015 RFS should be issued by November 30, 2014. EPA expects the 2015 RFS proposal to be issued in May 2015, but RFS tardiness is not new: after all, EPA did not promulgate the 2013 RFS final rule until August 2013. Given these constant stoppages, maybe the title of this blog should actually be “Delay, Delay, Delay, and Delay Some More.””

Forgetting 2014

"We give up."

That's basically what the Environmental Protection Agency said in late November, in announcing that — despite being a year late — they still can't figure out how to set the ethanol mandate for 2014.

The EPA is hurting everyone by creating instability in the corn market, which impacts refiners, corn farmers, livestock producers and consumers together. The EPA’s favorite tactic, delaying the final rule for the 2014 RFS until sometime next year, is further proof that the policy is broken and the agency is no longer a good steward. It is time for Congress to take bipartisan action on the Renewable Fuel Standard instead.

Some say it's politics. Some say it's government bureaucracy gone wrong. Some say it's Big Corn doing whatever it can to protect its profits.

But to us it means more families struggling with the price of food. It's more pain at the pump. It's more environmental damage. It's more hunger. It's more closed farms and harmed businesses. It's more engines put at risk.

Demand reform on the ethanol mandate from your Congressman!

EPA Announces the Rule for 2014 is No Rule At All

More than a year after announcing a plan to lower the ethanol mandate for 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency has decided that the policy is so broken, it is easier to give up than announce a final rule.

EPA said the agency will “take action on the 2014 standards rule in 2015 prior to or in conjunction with action on the 2015 standards rule.” The deadline for 2013 compliance with the rule will take place in 2015, EPA’s notice says.

See how others are reacting to the EPA’s decision and check back for more responses:

Environmental Working Group’s policy analyst Mike Lavender says:
Today's announcement is further evidence that Congress must reform our badly broken food-to-fuel policies. By failing to reduce the amount of corn ethanol blended into gasoline, the Obama administration today missed an opportunity to immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If we hope to reverse climate change, we need greenhouse gas reductions now, not in 2025, and reducing the amount of corn ethanol in gasoline is among the most effective tools at the administration’s disposal. We urge the administration to quickly finalize a RVO that paves the way for truly “green” biofuels."

National Chicken Council President Mike Brown says:
“This seesaw process by which the EPA proposes an up-and-down, now-and-later moving target as the compliance year unfolds leaves poultry and livestock producers unable to plan and budget effectively. While corn prices have moderated, volatility and uncertainty are the true business-killers. On top of all of this, we believed at one time that the original RFS included a workable provision that provided for an ‘off ramp’ in times of economic crisis.  On at least two major occasions – in 2008 and 2012 during catastrophic weather events – that belief has proven false. What more evidence does the administration and Congress need to prove the RFS — and the administration of it — is broken beyond repair? Albert Einstein is said to have observed, ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.’  Today’s announcement is further evidence that our current renewable fuel policy is not only broken, it’s insane.”

House Energy and Commerce Committee's Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and John Shimkus (R-IL) say:
“Businesses and consumers have been waiting a year now for clarity and guidance from EPA, but this decision to completely abandon the 2014 targets only adds to the growing uncertainty and frustration. EPA cannot just choose to arbitrarily ignore the law and the deadlines established by Congress. This unexpected announcement highlights that there are still significant challenges facing the RFS and underscores the need to come together and find a practical, bipartisan solution.”

American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturer’s President Charles T. Drevna says:
“The Obama Administration’s decision to further delay issuing the 2014 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) is a gross dereliction of responsibility that leaves fuel refiners and the biofuels industry alike to navigate a course of ambiguity. Today’s announcement indicates that the Administration plans to continuously mismanage this program in a manner that equates to playing Russian roulette with the nation’s fuel supply at the American consumer’s ultimate expense. The Administration’s inaction demonstrates once again that the non-functioning Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program is irreparably broken. AFPM calls upon Congress to expeditiously resume work on repealing or significantly reforming the RFS. In the meantime, AFPM will seek legal intervention. For three years in a row, the Administration has thumbed its nose at Congress and ignored a crystal clear statutory deadline to issue RVOs by November 30 of the preceding year. For this reason, AFPM today filed a notice of intent to sue EPA over its failure to issue the 2014 RFS regulations, which has languished at the White House Office of Management and Budget since August 22, 2014.”

The National Council of Chain Restaurants’ Executive Director Rob Green says:
“By backtracking on their initial recommendation on the ethanol mandate quota, the White House and EPA have chosen to accommodate a small group of ethanol lobbyists at the expense of American consumers and diners, the nation’s small business restaurant owners and all businesses that support and sustain the food supply chain. This unbelievable non-announcement demonstrates once and for all that the EPA, because of statutory and political considerations, cannot fix the failure of the RFS. Members of Congress should take note. The federal RFS ethanol mandate is irrevocably broken and needs to be repealed immediately. It is time that Congress take the RFS ‘off the menu’ once and for all.”

ActionAid USA’s Director of Policy and Campaigns Kristin Sundell says:
As the Administration stands by this failed policy, today’s decision to leave biofuels targets unchecked means corn for fuel tanks will be prioritized over food for hungry people around the world. It will also make prices for foods such as corn and soya more unstable, hitting poor people in the US and abroad hardest. Poor people around the world should not have to go hungry to produce fuel for our cars and trucks. Congress must act to reform its biofuel mandates.”

National Marine Manufacturers Association says:
“We have serious, well-documented and data-driven concerns with the safety of high ethanol fuel blends which have been proven to cause damage to marine engines. This damage puts consumers at risk and hurts manufacturers during a time of important economic recovery. The RFS is a broken law which sets unrealistic fuel mandates and requires a long term fix from Congress. NMMA strongly encourages Congress to address the issues of the RFS directly through legislation in order to protect consumers and US manufacturers.”

BoatUS Government Affairs Program Manager Nicole Palya Wood says:
“There is solid scientific data that supports levels of ethanol in gasoline over 10% damage marine engines. The EPA’s failure to efficiently administer this program, utilize its waiver authority and set standards that provide protections for consumers sends a clear message that congress must act now to reform the RFS. We were hoping the EPA would utilize their waiver authority to ease the pressure on the nation’s fuel supply with regard to ethanol. Now, with their failure to act, it’s even more critical we work for a Congressional legislative fix which would bring the investment in safer, more compatible renewable fuels, which was what the RFS originally intended.”

Show More