Environmental Working Group & Friends Call for RFS Reform

February 27, 2015

In an event convened by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an unlikely coalition of voices came together to discuss the mass deforestation, volatile food prices and the dangerous, costly fuel being forced upon Americans by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)—the burdensome and broken law that mandates ethanol be used in our fuel supply.

EWG led the conversation with additional points of view from the American Motorcyclist Association, BoatUS, Clean Air Task Force, the National Council for Chain Restaurants, ActionAid, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute and the University of Minnesota, all reinforcing that the RFS is hurting consumers in more ways than lawmakers realize.

Exhibit A: Engine damage

Engine failure in a boat or on a motorcycle can turn a fun family outing into an unprotected, terrifying experience—placing passengers at the mercy of tides, currents or other drivers speeding by and causing costly repairs that can destroy a once budget-friendly vacation. Because the RFS mandates more ethanol be mixed into the fuel supply every year, despite non-existent demand, the ethanol blends that can cause these types of small engine problems are becoming more prevalent in gas stations around the country and therefore more likely to accidentally end up in a tank they weren’t meant for.

Still skeptical? BoatUS, the American Motorcyclist Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, most major automakers and even AAA have all warned against higher ethanol blends and the dangers of misfueling.

Exhibit B: Volatile food prices

Speaking of budgets, restaurants and those who frequent them, as well as the world’s poor are feeling the pain of higher, more volatile prices on food staples, making it harder for everyone to put food on the table. The mandate increases the demand for corn, a staple in 75 percent of grocery items, which has a ripple effect on everything else you eat. Drastic changes in price hurt here in the U.S., but they’re life threatening for those who hover around the international poverty line and depend on low corn prices.

Restaurateurs, small family farmers, ActionAid and the United Nations, all authorities on their own pieces of the food price and hunger puzzle, have spoken out against the policy because it diverts food to fuel.

Exhibit C: Environmental destruction

And all the while our environment suffers. Millions of acres of land have been converted from other crops, conservation land, even cemeteries in order to grow corn—one of the most water- and fertilizer-intensive crops—which in turn pollutes our water and increases the very greenhouse gases the policy was meant to combat.

The Environmental Working Group is the authority on environmental impacts; not only have they repeatedly expressed disappointment with the RFS, but they’ve stepped to the forefront of the reform movement by bringing together this panel. Clean Air Task Force and environmental academics are echoing EWG’s call for RFS reform, exposing ethanol’s dirty air quality secrets.

The RFS isn’t the policy Americans signed up for: it’s dangerous, expensive and doing more harm than good to our environment.  Tell Congress to support common sense reform bills, like those from Representative Goodlatte and Senators Feinstein and Toomey.