Bipartisan lawmakers: Time to scrap some of this ethanol-mandate ridiculousness, no?

posted at 7:21 pm on April 10, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Ah, the Renewable Fuel Standard. What can I say about the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires fuel producers to blend a certain amount of biofuels into their product? That its existence inflates an artificial market for a product consumers don’t really want to buy? That its corn-based components drive up food prices at home and in third-world countries? That on net evaluation it’s harmful to the environment and brings marginal lands into production (and that everyone’s been well aware of the fact for years)? That it enjoys an entrenched political position because of powerful ethanol/agribusiness lobbying? Yep, I can definitely say all of those things.

The EPA has roundly refused to abandon the exercise in economic and environmental folly that is the RFS, and ergo some members of Congress are looking to take the matter into their own hands — on a bipartisan basis, no less.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), a bill co-sponsor, said his talks with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) have left him “hopeful” about securing a hearing.

“There is growing support throughout the Congress,” Goodlatte said during a Wednesday news conference, with primary co-sponsors Reps. Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Steve Womack (R-Ark.) and others joining.

The bill, which was introduced Wednesday, would eliminate a mandate to blend 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol into transportation fuel by 2022, while leaving intact the 21 billion gallon mark for next-generation biofuels.

The bill also would ban fuel with an ethanol content greater than 10 percent, and require federal blending targets for next-generation biofuels to be set at actual production levels.

Requiring federal blending targets for next-generation biofuels to be “set at actual production levels” might sound obvious, except that the EPA recently tried to punish fuel companies for not complying with their cellulosic biofuels mandate — even though all of those cellulosic biofuels didn’t actually exist. A federal appeals court nixed the effort, but that didn’t prevent the EPA from expanding that particular mandate even further this year based on their fantastically optimistic “projections.” Stupid.

Obviously, the ethanol lobby can’t allow for this, so here they come with their — er — “educational” campaign:

U.S. ethanol producers are taking their case for protecting the nation’s biofuel mandate directly to lawmakers this week, as the latest Congressional push to revamp federal renewable fuel targets kicks off on Wednesday.

Growth Energy, a pro-ethanol trade group, said producers from Illinois, Colorado, Iowa and other Midwestern states would meet with their representatives in Congress to parry what they called a “desperate” attempt by oil companies to stamp out renewable fuel use.

They plan to reiterate to lawmakers their arguments that the ethanol mandate has helped to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

“When we educate policy makers, they get it,” Growth Energy Chief Executive Tom Buis told reporters.

They’ll of course be putting up the fight of a lifetime against this legislation, since it will do away with so much of their specially-interested special treatment — but it’s a step in the right direction for peeling back some of the federal government’s ‘well-intentioned’ but pragmatically awful decision-making. Here’s hoping this thing gains some traction.


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Oh thank God, it’s a start.

thebrokenrattle on April 10, 2013 at 7:26 PM

Eat your corn!

RovesChins on April 10, 2013 at 7:33 PM

Sweet. Looking forward to the National Corn Growers Association’s deceptive adverting on this issue.

NotCoach on April 10, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Ethanol in gasoline also f’s up your four and two-cycle yard tools, boat motors, and cars and trucks older than around 1992.

slickwillie2001 on April 10, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Doesn’t the left’s feel good mandates prove that lower taxes promote growth?

Speakup on April 10, 2013 at 7:37 PM

Ethanol in gasoline also f’s up your four and two-cycle yard tools, boat motors, and cars and trucks older than around 1992.

slickwillie2001 on April 10, 2013 at 7:35 PM

You also get less miles per gallon and worse horse power in general using ethanol.

NotCoach on April 10, 2013 at 7:37 PM

Doesn’t the left’s feel good mandates prove that lower taxes promote growth?

Speakup on April 10, 2013 at 7:37 PM

Wrong! This only proves that, once again, half measures don’t work! There should be corn stalks at every gas pump so we can shove corn directly into our tanks!

NotCoach on April 10, 2013 at 7:39 PM

Some sanity…finally!

Resist We Much on April 10, 2013 at 7:41 PM

NotCoach on April 10, 2013 at 7:39 PM

I just use cream corn. I get it in those big hummer institutional size cans at Costco.

BacaDog on April 10, 2013 at 7:48 PM

Well, if it’s sane, we can be sure of one thing: Obama will veto it.

ConservativeinCO on April 10, 2013 at 7:51 PM

How about light bulbs?

ladyingray on April 10, 2013 at 7:55 PM

If Congress were serious, the best thing they could do is defund the EPA. Let’s see how long those environmental zealots will be willing to work for “free”.

GarandFan on April 10, 2013 at 8:01 PM

Never happen.

sablegsd on April 10, 2013 at 8:23 PM

Of course it’s time. Higher food prices, higher gas prices and damaged car engines…

Ethanol Mandates – the poster child for zombie government programs that never die – regardless of the damage they do

imperfectamerica on April 10, 2013 at 9:01 PM

Stop Burning Food!!

D.Mockracy on April 10, 2013 at 9:20 PM

I’m all for removing the requirement to blend x% of fuel with ethanol as that goes against free market sustainability, artificially propping up the ethanol industry.

Banning fuel with ethanol content greater than 10% is not a “Free Market” move though. If Ethanol had a better source instead of corn (see Brazil) and became viable on it’s own, unsubsidized, in the free market it would be a shame to see it’s production stopped because this bill would limit it’s chance of sale in a free market.

Bill seems kind of conflicting.

deuce on April 11, 2013 at 12:31 AM

Do we still fund the tobacco industry? Do we still depend on foreign oil that was supposed to be eliminated over thirty years ago? Their budget was 23.3 billion last year. How about these 1300 federal agencies we fund? Did you know there are thousands of staff for Congress? It’s out of control folks and covered very well with political BS, the same with this ethanol mandate. The employment boom in the Dakotas is well hidden too.

mixplix on April 11, 2013 at 6:30 AM

Deuce where do you get that over 10% ethanol blends would be banned by this bill?

We have E85 here, 85% ethanol it isn’t going away at least it won’t until the Feds and State government stop the subsidies and mandates.

We are burning 40% of our corn as ethanol now. Increasing that mandate by another 50% will have disastrous effects both economically and ecologically.

jpmn on April 11, 2013 at 6:33 AM

The agribusiness lobby, corn farmers and the ecojackasses are gonna kill them.

ironked on April 11, 2013 at 6:36 AM

…it’s a step in the right direction for peeling back some of the federal government’s ‘well-intentioned’ but pragmatically awful decision-making.

Why “Well Intentioned”?
Is there evidence of this?
Lazy assumption.

This program was a cynical attempt to fleece consumers from the git-go. At no stage of the process was there any evidence that the program would be in any way environmentally beneficial or cost-effective. Any hand-waving gestures of helping the environment or reducing dependency of foreign oil are just window-dressing, and always have been.

Haiku Guy on April 11, 2013 at 8:30 AM

Corn was meant to be eaten until ADM showed up and convinced Congress that corn, not switchgrass, belonged in our fuel tanks. So now we have greatly inflated food prices and subsidized ethanol production. Only Government would help produce something with a net energy loss and claim we are better off.

stuartm80127 on April 11, 2013 at 8:33 AM

“When we educatebrainwash policy makers, they get it,” Growth Energy Chief Executive Tom Buis told reporters.

burt on April 11, 2013 at 9:09 AM

Legislate in haste, repeal at leisure.

“This sounded really good at the time”

So did free healthcare…..at the time.

BobMbx on April 11, 2013 at 9:34 AM

At no stage of the process was there any evidence that the program would be in any way environmentally beneficial or cost-effective.

Haiku Guy on April 11, 2013 at 8:30 AM

Oh yes there is. Google “Al Gore” and “corn” and “ethanol”.

You’ll find thousands of references where he said it was all those things.

/sarc

BobMbx on April 11, 2013 at 9:36 AM

Ethanol has already ruined one of our chain saws and working on another also killed a lawn mower. I’m afraid of what’s going to happen to the sled and atv. This is crazy. The farmers can still sell all the corn they grow for food then maybe I can still afford to feed the horses. This isn’t to get us off of foreign oil, it’s to suck more money out of our pockets.

Kissmygrits on April 11, 2013 at 9:53 AM

“When we educatebrainwash tar and feather policy makers, they get it,” Growth Energy Chief Executive Tom Buis told reporters.

burt on April 11, 2013 at 9:09 AM

FIFY, at least from liberty’s point-of-view.

GWB on April 11, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Fortunately, I have access to and use non-ethanol gasoline to which I add a little Techron.

esnap on April 11, 2013 at 2:01 PM