New National Poll Indicates Voters Want Federal Ethanol Mandate Reformed

July 27, 2015

Today, Lake Research Partners and Bellwether Research and Consulting released a new national poll sponsored by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) that finds likely 2016 voters are deeply divided about the corn ethanol mandate, and have widespread and serious concerns about ethanol’s unintended consequences—including damage to engines, land conversion and food prices.

“Voters across party lines express grave concerns for the impacts of the corn ethanol mandate from the Renewable Fuel Standard that touch many parts of their lives from the cars they drive to the food they buy,” said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners. “They strongly support bi-partisan proposals that would reduce the impact of corn ethanol, and particularly support the EPA reducing the amount of corn ethanol required by law.”

With the Environmental Protection Agency closing the comment period on its proposed ethanol volumes for 2014, 2015 and 2016 today, the poll also shows that 67 percent of people favor the agency setting ethanol volumes below what is required by law, with 68 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of Republicans supporting volumes lower than the statute.

“We commissioned this poll to better quantify and qualify the reactions Americans have toward the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's continuing effort to mandate more ethanol in our fuel each year,” said Sen. Wayne Allard, vice president for government relations for the American Motorcyclist Association. “The results prove that, just like our members, rank and file Americans have serious concerns about the damaging and far-reaching effects of excessive ethanol production and that they support efforts to reign in this misdirected federal policy.”

Polling results also indicate that majorities across party lines support bipartisan efforts in Congress to reform the ethanol mandate, with slightly more people backing an outright repeal of the law. And 44 percent of voters said they would be less likely to support a presidential candidate who supported the ethanol mandate.

These results show that a majority of voters nationwide have serious concerns about the effects of the RFS — and at least half of voters from all parties rated engine damage, environmental degradation and rising food prices that come from ethanol as very serious concerns.

  • 78 percent of those polled had serious concerns that higher blends of ethanol such as E-15 can cause severe damage in cars, motorcycles, boats, lawn equipment and other small engines.
  • 73 percent of polled voters had serious concerns about an EPA analysis showing that emissions that contribute to climate change are 28 percent higher from corn ethanol than pure gasoline.
  • 77 percent of those polled had serious concerns about corn ethanol production consuming 34 times more water than pure gasoline.
  • 80 percent of polled voters had serious concerns about how diverting corn to produce ethanol could increase food prices.

Click here to see this survey in its entirety. 

The poll was conducted via phone with professional interviewers using both landline and cell phones from July 6 through July 10. Interviewers reached 1000 national likely 2016 voters, 40 percent were reached via cell phone. The partisan breakdown includes 40 percent self-identified Democrats, 34 percent self-identified Republicans, and 23 percent self-identified independents.  The margin of error for the survey is +/- 3.1%.