Friday RFS Roundup – 5/9

May 9, 2014

This week was an exciting one for us! We hosted our first-ever RFS Day Of Action, on which 17 participants flew to Washington, D.C. to tell the EPA and 40+ Congressional members why ethanol mandates need reform. In conjunction, we hosted a food policy event in New York City where panelists discussed the impending food vs. fuel crisis that has only been exacerbated by, you guessed it, ethanol mandates.

Here is a look at some of the news from this week:

The Hill, Time to close the books on U.S. biofuels policy: From snowmobilers to cattle ranchers to businessmen, the types of people opposed to ethanol mandates are about as diverse as you can imagine. In this op-ed, authors Ken Klippen and Greg Gibeson, two of our Fly-in participants, provide an overview of our RFS Day of Action and address the most concerning issues of the RFS. The U.S. ethanol mandates have failed their promises, their production targets, and most importantly, American consumers.

In Short: “The ongoing cost of supporting the biofuel industry through mandates and subsidies has been estimated to cost the U.S.  $159 billion from 2008 to 2022 at the expense—literally— of American consumers and the various industries they work in. The EPA has wisely proposed to reduce 2014 blending requirements in order to avert the looming blend wall crisis. Let’s hope they stick to this proposal when they finalize their ruling in the coming weeks as a sign of good faith to the many businesses and citizens that have raised concern with this policy and the many consequences it leaves in its wake.”

Bloomberg View, Biofuels Are a Bad Idea: Acclaimed energy expert Robert Bryce shines a spotlight on the raw realities of ethanol mandates. Between their low power density, effect on food prices and inability to meet our energy needs, biofuels are just a “bad idea.” And more so, Bryce puts things into perspective: while we are devoting land area more than twice the size of California to biofuel production, biofuels are providing less than 0.5% of the world's energy needs. This is madness.

In Short: “To grow enough biomass to produce that much energy, the U.S. would need to set aside about 219 million acres of land, an area the size of Texas, New York and Ohio combined. Biofuels, we have been repeatedly told, are the magic bullet, the energy-independence-punish-the-Arabs-anti-terror-better-than-standard-diesel-fuel miracle elixir. It isn't true. It’s never been true. Despite tens of billions in taxpayer money that have been thrown at corn ethanol, soy diesel, algae and the rest, the U.S. economy, and more particularly the U.S. military, has gained nothing.”

Capital New York, Anti-hunger advocates weigh the ethanol effect: Diverting food to fuel has raised concerns around land conversion, commodities prices, global stability, food access and global hunger issues. Serving as a recap to our NYC event, this article address the central question to the panel debate: Does ethanol exacerbate global hunger? The panel, which was moderated by former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Melody Barnes, included Sasanka Thilakasiri, Policy Advisor for Oxfam; Dr. Carolyn Dimitri, Associate Professor of Food Studies at NYU; Joel Berg, Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger and Dan Soloway, Board of Directors for New York State Restaurant Association.

In Short: “That means that corn, which could be used to feed people and livestock, is instead being turned into fuel. But between processing the fuel and the environmental effects of excessive corn harvesting, many scientists (including the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) say the environmental benefits of corn-based ethanol may be a wash. ‘What drives me insane was that this was sort of pitched as a saving model for energy crisis and saving the environment,' Thilakasiri said. 'It's the biggest fallacy of this entire thing.’”