Friday RFS Roundup – 6/13

June 13, 2014

Regardless that this week’s news cycle was dominated by political and electoral news, RFS coverage continues on! Between low fuel economy and high food costs, ethanol mandates continue to affect consumers everywhere. Take a look at what we found most profound this week:

Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Restaurants Fight Rising Food Prices: As food costs are on the rise, Chicago restaurant owners, suppliers and chefs gathered last week to discuss one of the major drivers: the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Dave Samber, owner and chef of Polo Cafe and Catering, and Michael Lapidus, owner of Q BBQ, discuss why these massive price increases demand awareness and action.

In Short: “As the price for a wide variety of basic proteins and other staples increase, restaurants — most often operated by small business owners — struggle to affordably secure the products their menus rely on. Since the implementation of the RFS, wholesale prices for beef have risen 47 percent, dairy by 23 percent, and eggs a walloping 70 percent. In turn, this has increased total costs for full-service restaurants by $691 million or nearly 9 percent according to a recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers. This burden puts the 517,900 Illinois jobs supported by the food service industry at stake as restaurant owners struggle to keep costs at bay and payrolls flowing.”

Huffington Post, Can Fuel Economy Targets Survive All the Loopholes?: While the Obama administration is committed to policy geared towards cutting greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and auto-related pollution nationwide, the policy allows for loopholes that could result in the exact opposite. And one of those loopholes involves ethanol – for every E-85-friendly car this is made, automakers are allowed to increase the number of conventional gas cars they manufacture. Here is the catch: only 2% of the country’s gas stations have E-85 in their pumps, which leads us to ask: who is even going to buy those E-85 friendly cars? With loopholes like this, this failing policy does little for energy efficiency; instead, automakers should only make cars that the markets demands.

In Short: “For each vehicle a company builds that is capable of running on E-85 ethanol (in addition to conventional gasoline,) the automaker can increase the number of gas guzzlers it builds. Never mind that fewer than 2 percent of the country's filling stations sell the corn-based E-85 fuel — and that few drivers buy a drop of it.”

WBIR, Drought Can Drive up Food Prices in East TN: In East TN, consumers are seeing an increase in basic food prices caused by the area’s lack of rain. As the drought continues, people are beginning to change their eating habits and cut back on basic foods. Do you know a major cause of U.S. droughts? Ethanol mandates.

In Short: “Dena Wise with the University of Tennessee Extension said that recent price rises could be a good reason to shop smarter. ‘Food is a necessity and really over the last several years, middle to low income families, those who have the tightest budgets, have had very little increase in incomes. So that makes it particularly important to buy food intelligently just like they spend the rest of their money intelligently,’ said Wise. This could include looking for substitutes for your everyday meats and looking for other protein replacements.”