Friday RFS Roundup – 8/8

August 8, 2014

This week, the media focused on some of the unintended consequences of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). From increased food costs to environmental threats and governmental boondoggles, the ethanol mandate harms consumers across the nation. And yet, the American people and refiners alike are still waiting for final 2014 blending requirements from the EPA, which are now almost eight months late..

Learn more from this week:

  • CDC News, Lake Erie's Algae Explosion Blamed on Farmers: Toxic algae blooms were found in the water of Lake Erie, likely caused by expanding corn crops in the area.

    In Short: “The commission's report suggested that changes to farming practices were largely to blame for recent blooms.

    ‘The main changes that are responsible have to do with intensification of farming – getting more out of the land than we did historically,’ Benoy said, adding that that includes things like:

    o More livestock farming and greater application of their waste to fields.
    o Higher application of fertilizers in general.
    o An increase in corn farming in the U.S. Midwest, partly to meet a demand for ethanol fuel.”

  • Delaware News, The real cost of ethanol: Ethanol was supposed to be good for the environment, lower gas prices and increase energy security but the costs of the unintended consequences outweigh the benefits, and Americans are starting to catch on.

    In Short: “[T]he growth of ethanol, an alcohol-based additive that makes up 10-percent of each gallon of gas, has had unintended consequences:

    o We pay more for foods like bread, snacks and chicken. Between 2007 and 2008, ethanol drove a 10 to 15 percent increase in food prices, according to a Congressional Budget Office report – partly because corn once used for livestock feed is now used to make fuel.
    o Our vehicles get fewer miles per gallon of gasoline now that ethanol is included, and we're paying more for that fuel – about 13 cents per gallon because of the lost efficiency.
    o Boat engines and lawn care equipment go kaput from engines that weren't designed for fuels that include alcohol, a natural byproduct of the sugars and starches in corn.
    o Fiberglass marine fuel tanks in older vessels can't stand up to the alcohol-based fuel additive, causing dangerous leaks.
    o Iconic species like monarch butterflies, native bees, pheasants and other grassland birds are declining from lost habitat as more land is converted to corn production.
    o Corn planted in marginal habitats threatens one of the most altered ecosystems in the world – the temperate grasslands of the Great Plains, which naturally absorb carbon from the atmosphere.”

  • Bloomberg, Obama’s Delay on Renewable Fuel Puts Producers in Bind: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), charged with enforcing the ethanol mandate, is more than eight months late in delivering the final 2014 blending requirements, which isn’t good for anyone.

    In Short: “The Environmental Protection Agency is eight months past the deadline for issuing its mandate of how much ethanol, biodiesel and other petroleum alternatives must be blended into motor fuels this year, leaving investors wary about the government’s commitment to the program. At the same time, cuts EPA proposed last year, and a surprise regulatory rewrite last month, may undercut demand for Canergy’s ethanol.”