The Hill: Consumers don’t want ethanol

September 30, 2013

Mark J. Perry, September 28 – To understand the public’s deeply-rooted opposition to the government’s renewable fuel standard, consider the multiple web sites that list ethanol-free service stations. Just one of the web sites, Pure-Gas, lists 672 ethanol-free stations in Wisconsin, 394 in Minnesota, 262 in Virginia, 145 in Michigan, and so on.  Altogether, PureGas lists more than 7,300 stations in the U.S. and Canada that sell ethanol-free gasoline or diesel.

By now it should be very obvious that many Americans oppose the renewal fuel standard (RFS) and want it scratched so that they can purchase ethanol-free gasoline at every gas station.    

By way of background, the U.S. is now almost halfway through the federal mandate to produce 36 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022. But since Congress enacted the RFS in 2005, it has created a host of problems.  The root of the RFS problem is that it has created an artificial market by giving the biofuels industry a guaranteed share of the transportation fuels market. Never mind that since the RFS was implemented there has been a decline in gasoline consumption, resulting from slower economic growth and vehicle fuel economy that is the highest in history.

The scientific and economic reality is that ethanol is much more costly to produce than gasoline, while providing 27 percent lower fuel economy than gasoline on an energy equivalent basis.  Hence consumers have to purchase more fuel to drive the same distances, and is why consumers are willing to search for gas stations with ethanol-free fuel.