Coming Together for Everyday Americans

January 21, 2015

When laying out his plan for reviving “middle-class economics” in this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama urged Washington to focus on “ideas that are practical, not partisan” to benefit hardworking Americans. We couldn’t agree more: Ensuring working families get a fair shake must be top priority. And occasionally that means reforming federal policies that do hardworking Americans more harm than good.

Take for example the federal ethanol mandate, known as the Renewable Fuel Standard. Reforming this policy already has bipartisan support in Congress because policymakers on both sides of the aisle have seen the negative impact it has had in their home states.

Pres. Obama mentioned lower gas prices, which could be threatened if the mandate is not reformed. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, implementing the Renewable Fuel Standard could mean increasing gas prices by 26 cents per gallon. Beyond just higher gas prices, ethanol is thirty-three percent less fuel efficient than pure gasoline, reducing the fuel economy of your gas, which means more trips to the gas station and higher real costs for you.

And the longer this policy goes without reform, the more likely engine-damaging ethanol blends like E15 will be forced into our fuel supply. These higher blends aren’t meant for more than 90 percent of the cars on the road today and the damage isn’t covered by most automakers’ warranties, leaving consumers on the hook financially for the repairs.

And the rising prices don’t stop at the gas station. Because corn is a staple ingredient in three-quarters of grocery items, increasing demand for corn to meet the mandate is causing grocery prices to skyrocket as well, which disproportionately affects working class Americans who spend more of their income on food. By 2022, the RFS will increase food costs for Americans by $3 billion — annually.

Swift, bipartisan Congressional action, like the recent amendment offered by Senators Feinstein (D-CA) and Toomey (R-PA), to reform this failed policy would truly benefit hardworking Americans. Tell your Congressman that now is the time for action to reform the ethanol mandate.