In an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and boost the nation’s reliance on renewable fuels, Congress created the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), but some believe the program presents more challenges than it solves.
The federal program, authorized under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and expanded under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, requires transportation fuel sold in the U.S. to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels.
Under the program, the amount of renewable fuel to be blended into transportation fuel increases each year, escalating to 36 billion gallons by 2022.
Opinions over RFS vary, with some calling for the program to be repealed, and others, reform.
Marlo Lewis, Jr., senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said he believes the program simply creates a greater financial burden for consumers.
“The more aggressively Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets annual biofuel volume requirements and the associated percentage standards, the greater the cost to consumers at the pump and in the supermarket,” Lewis told EP News Wire.
Instead of fixing the implementation of the federal program, Lewis said repealing the act is the appropriate course of action to take.
“Total repeal is best," he said. "A competitive marketplace catering to consumer preferences, not politically mandated production quotas catering to corporate welfare clients, should determine which fuels are produced and in what quantities. However, freezing the mandate at the E10 blend wall would limit the program's adverse impacts on food and fuel consumers, livestock producers and restaurants, and reduce the risks of damage to older vehicles, lawn equipment and motor boat engines.”
The EPA reports that most gasoline now sold in the U.S. stands at E10, which is fuel with up to 10 percent ethanol.
Lewis went on to explain that the higher the mandated ethanol blend, “the worse mileage your car gets.”
“Which raises an obvious but seldom if ever addressed question: If ethanol is such a great deal for consumers, why do we need a law to make us buy it?” he said.
Retired Army Capt. James McCormick, program director of Vets4Energy, also expressed concern over high ethanol mandates.
“Anyone who owns a car, boat, motorcycle or lawn-mower should be concerned,” McCormick told EP News Wire. “But there is a very real danger when it comes to the thousands of small engines and compressors used by our military. When those fail, we have a dangerous national security issue.”
McCormick is a recipient of three bronze stars, a silver star and three purple hearts. Also a farmer in West Virginia, McCormick said the problems RFS creates go beyond the fuel industry.
“High ethanol mandates increases demand for corn," he said. "That’s good for corn growers, but not for the rest of us farmers. As a farmer, I am seeing corn crops replace our prairies and wetlands, and using more pesticides. It has killed about 50 percent of our natural honey bee population. We are being forced to truck in bees just to pollinate our fields and orchards.”
U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) has been a voice in Congress for repealing the RFS.
“The RFS is outdated. It was created in 2005, a time when American energy consumption relied heavily on foreign imports," said Cassidy in a statement. "It was thought that the Renewable Fuel Standard would be good for our environment by decreasing the carbon footprint. But in the last ten years, our energy landscape has changed dramatically. We now have more domestic oil than almost ever before and the drawbacks of the RFS greatly outweigh its benefits."