The politics surrounding biofuels and biomass-based power generation are so fraught with controversy that the Washington Post recently labeled bioenergy “a familiar obstacle to good policymaking.”
Californians are currently experiencing one of the worst and most persistent droughts on record.
Proponents of the ethanol mandate promised Americans that their plan would save the environment; but 10 years later, America’s premier “environmental” policy is actually doing more harm to the environment than good.
The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), despite its original intentions to protect our environment and increase corn prices, has become just another form of corporate welfare, benefiting ethanol producers while average farms struggle to remain competitive.
The IPCC stunned many when it reversed its stance on global biofuels policies finding that the use of biofuels has sweeping consequences for the environment, global food security and the health of developing nations.
Agrichemical companies mint fortunes by selling seeds and chemicals to farmers, and grain processors reap billions from buying crops cheap and turning them into pricey stuff like livestock feed, sweetener, cooking oil, and ethanol. But the great bulk of US farms are run by independent operators.
Beef, poultry, milk and cheese prices have all been on the rise for nearly a decade. By 2022, the RFS will increase food costs for Americans by $3 billion annually. And now the drought, which has been affecting various parts of the country since 2012, is making what is already bad, worse.
At a time when every drop of water counts in California, ethanol plants are using upwards of 150 gallons of water to refine 1 gallon of ethanol — using enough water to supply a California town of 5,000 every year.
California dairies have suffered immensely in recent years due to a variety of factors, including low milk prices; but one major factor is the exponentially rising cost of feed.
On Friday, September 13, California became the most recent state to take action against ethanol mandates. The state legislature unanimously passed AJR 21, which urged Congress to enact the RFS Reform Act of 2013, to alleviate the impact of rising feed costs for California dairy and poultry farmers.
The ethanol mandate is a failing policy that lines the pockets of one kind of farmer, while devastating others, raises prices in the supermarket and puts engines at risk.
Colin Carter, professor of agriculture at UC Davis, and Michael Marsh, CEO of Western United Dairymen’s Association, debated the merits of this broken policy with Neil Koehler, CEO of Pacific Ethanol.