Excellent: Senate introduces a bill to abolish RFS biofuels mandate

posted at 6:31 pm on June 21, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

In an epic and unexpected turn of events on Thursday, the House version of the farm bill failed to gain enough traction to make it into conference with the Senate, but the fact that the farm bill lives on in its current form — wedded to food stamps and chock-full of more agribusiness pork than you can shake a stick at — is a deplorable testament to the staying power of farm subsidies and the lobbyists who love them. Once you start handing out subsidies, the relevant special interests are reliably reluctant to let them go, and most unfortunately, the farm bill isn’t the only legislation on which powerful agribusiness lobbies keep a protective eye.

Last April, bipartisan lawmakers in the House introduced a bill that would abolish the Renewable Fuel Standard, the federal regulation beloved by biofuels interests because of the convenient way in which it requires consumers to buy their product via forcing energy companies to blend it with their gasoline, whether or not they might actually want to. Now, the Senate is coming out with their own version — also on a bipartisan basis, I might add.

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced “The Renewable Fuel Standard Repeal Act” (S. 1195). The bill would repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in its entirety.

The Renewable Fuel Standard is fundamentally broken and beyond repair,” said Senator Barrasso. “Instead of delivering meaningful environmental benefits, it’s driven up food and fuel costs for American families.  This flawed program will also inevitably lead to widespread lawsuits against American manufacturers. When Congress enacts bad policy, the right response is to scrap it and start over.”

“The Renewable Fuel Standard isn’t working for consumers, refiners, or livestock groups,”said Senator Pryor.  “These mandates are unworkable and need to be overhauled. Repealing the RFS will allow us to develop a new policy for advanced biofuels without driving up Arkansans’ gas and food prices.” …

In 2005, Congress established the RFS effectively requiring refiners to blend increasing volumes of biofuels (e.g., corn ethanol) into the nation’s gasoline supplies. In 2007, Congress expanded the RFS effectively requiring refiners to blend much larger volumes of biofuels and advanced biofuels (e.g., cellulosic ethanol) into the nation’s gasoline and diesel fuel supplies.

I’m holding out hope, but sadly, agribusiness interests will predictably do everything they can to lobby against the bills and prevent them from becoming viable legislation — which is just dumb, because nobody even likes ethanol except for them. Environmentalists don’t like it; economists don’t like; consumers and energy companies obviously don’t like it, since they have to be mandated to use it; even the EPA has to work hard to pretend that there are any real benefits to continuing this dreadful, market-distorting, and environmentally harmful policy.


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Ethanol has destroyed one car and two lawn mowers in our household. Our mileage per gallon has gone down about 10%. How energy efficient is that?

pat on June 21, 2013 at 6:37 PM

We can dream though

gator70 on June 21, 2013 at 6:37 PM

I hate to get my hopes up only to have them stomped on … again.

It truly is a horrible idea and bill.

darwin on June 21, 2013 at 6:40 PM

Uh oh, the Keystone Clowns are not going to like this one little bit.

antipc on June 21, 2013 at 6:42 PM

That crap is murder on self sealing boat gas tanks. Make it go away now.

Big Orange on June 21, 2013 at 6:42 PM

I have a fleet of small engines that die slow, premature deaths due to this boondoggle.

Someone needs to put a stake through the heart of ethanol.

turfmann on June 21, 2013 at 6:45 PM

Other than Rick Perry, was there any other GOP candidate that opposed Ethanol subsidies during the Iowa Caucuses?

I’d like to see what Grassley/Latham/Steve King have to say about this.

Hostile Gospel on June 21, 2013 at 6:49 PM

It’s ok, because cellulosic ethanol is just right around the corner. It will be here just about the time we get fusion power. All of our energy problems will be solved, FOREVER! YAY!

tdarrington on June 21, 2013 at 6:50 PM

These people aren’t going to do anything that doesn’t benefit them somehow. If it’s something that actually turns out to be good for the American people, it’s purely incidental.

Dr. ZhivBlago on June 21, 2013 at 6:51 PM

Ethanol has a perfectly reasonable use: in a beverage.

Keep it the hell out of our fuel tanks.

merlich on June 21, 2013 at 6:52 PM

Glad to see that politicians are slowly coming around to common sense regarding biofuels.

Keep up the good work on the farm bill and energy posts, Erika. They aren’t as popular as other topics but very important and need to be discussed.

visions on June 21, 2013 at 6:57 PM

You mean harvesting fuel using equipment that uses that fuel is not efficient? Taht’s unpossible.

jdpaz on June 21, 2013 at 7:04 PM

The bad news – because there are a lot of corn-a-hole-producing states (more than 20 at last count), this bill won’t see the light of day on the Senate floor.

Steve Eggleston on June 21, 2013 at 7:11 PM

The ugly news – ADM still owns Congress.

Steve Eggleston on June 21, 2013 at 7:17 PM

Remember, the 1 cent per telephone call tax instituted during the Spanish american War lasted through various iterations for nearly 108 years after the war ended. So there is hope.

Johnnyreb on June 21, 2013 at 7:17 PM

ADM will not like this!

phillypolitics on June 21, 2013 at 7:18 PM

Ethanol has destroyed one car and two lawn mowers in our household. Our mileage per gallon has gone down about 10%. How energy efficient is that?

pat on June 21, 2013 at 6:37 PM

Add a chainsaw to that total for me. And you can’t take those apart anymore and fix them.

Johnnyreb on June 21, 2013 at 7:20 PM

Ethanol has destroyed one car and two lawn mowers in our household. Our mileage per gallon has gone down about 10%. How energy efficient is that? – pat on June 21, 2013 at 6:37 PM

Add a chainsaw to that total for me. And you can’t take those apart anymore and fix them. – Johnnyreb on June 21, 2013 at 7:20 PM

I learned about ten years ago about the horrible effects of ethanol in gasoline, especially in small engines. I live out on a farm with about 245 acres. I have all sorts of small engine power equipment. I’ve become very adept at taking them apart and cleaning them up. I don’t care what time of season it is, I still put fuel preservative in every gallon. At the end of every season I try to empty out gas tanks and carburators. Nothing is as bad as bad gasoline. I have one Honda HR214 that I bought back in 1986. It still starts on the first pull of the cord.

SC.Charlie on June 21, 2013 at 7:35 PM

First piece of sanity I have seen out of this Congress.

crosspatch on June 21, 2013 at 7:54 PM

Ethanol has destroyed one car and two lawn mowers in our household. Our mileage per gallon has gone down about 10%. How energy efficient is that?

pat on June 21, 2013 at 6:37 PM

Add a chainsaw to that total for me. And you can’t take those apart anymore and fix them.

Johnnyreb on June 21, 2013 at 7:20 PM

Two solutions: drive outside of the typical big-city liberal metro areas to where you can get real gasoline, here’s where: http://pure-gas.org/

Second, go to Lowe’s or HD and buy ‘Trufuel’, ‘gasoline’ in tin cans for mowers and yard tools, comes in pure, 32:1 and 40:1. Too expensive for cars though.

slickwillie2001 on June 21, 2013 at 8:16 PM

Mark Pryor has a lot of reasons to act sane for about fifteen minutes until he makes it thru the re election in 2014, cuz perhaps they might run the Huck against him, and he will lose his gravy train in d.c.

Fleuries on June 21, 2013 at 8:39 PM

Ethanol actually is a great anti-detonant additive; you can crank up the compression ratio of an engine a bit on E10, and a *lot* on E85.

There’s a lot less energy by unit of volume, though, so it puts a big dent in gas mileage.

JEM on June 21, 2013 at 8:41 PM

Didn’t the 21st Amendment rescind the Fed’s authority to regulate ethanol?

Rich H on June 21, 2013 at 9:43 PM

Second, go to Lowe’s or HD and buy ‘Trufuel’, ‘gasoline’ in tin cans for mowers and yard tools, comes in pure, 32:1 and 40:1. Too expensive for cars though.

If you’re going to leave any engine sit for a few months, go to your local airport and get a couple gallons of 100LL Av gas and put it in them. That stuff can sit for years and not go bad.

lowandslow on June 21, 2013 at 10:02 PM

I have good luck with StaBil. It’ll keep the gas all summer.

tdarrington on June 21, 2013 at 10:15 PM

What?! End an agricultural subsidy? End a subsidy of small electrical motor producers (to replace those gasoline ones ruined by ethanol/crap)? End a subsidy of the business for cleaning/repairing fuel systems corroded and contaminated by ethanol. It’s just common sense. And will happen when there are snow-cones in hell.

trl on June 21, 2013 at 10:19 PM

Amazing how the corn growers have so much muscle that the government will force us at gunpoint to buy their inferior product. I’m pretty sure the bio fuel creates more greenhouse gas than regular fuel on a per workload basis so it’s not a climate thing.

Buddahpundit on June 21, 2013 at 10:55 PM

“Instead of delivering meaningful environmental benefits, it’s driven up food and fuel costs for American families. This flawed program will also inevitably lead to widespread lawsuits against American manufacturers. When Congress enacts bad policy, the right response is to scrap it and start over.

Not so.. the response is to mandate it, expand it and subsidize it further.

JellyToast on June 21, 2013 at 11:26 PM

I will be very surprised if this bill makes it out of committee.

crosspatch on June 21, 2013 at 11:45 PM

It would be too much to expect that the Congress would listen to the 95% of the American People who object to, and suffer from, the bio-fuel mandate, instead of the 5% who directly profit from that mandate.

Another Drew on June 22, 2013 at 1:55 AM

Either that, or a class action suit due to damage to motor vehicles from the alcohol damage.

I DONT WANT THIS CRAP IN MY CAR!!!!!

TX-96 on June 22, 2013 at 6:12 AM

I never put ethanol blended gas in my car. There are many stations in my area that offer 100% gasoline, no ethanol.

mbs on June 22, 2013 at 8:47 AM

Repealing the RFS will allow us to develop a new policy for advanced biofuels

Of course, he’s a Dem, but there’s the problem with congresscritters in general: we need a policy! No! No, you don’t. You don’t need to produce a policy at all. It’s not your friggin’ job. The only reason for you to produce a policy is to exert more control over the nation than you are granted by the Constitution.

To quote Jonah Goldberg:

Don’t just do something, STAND there!

GWB on June 22, 2013 at 8:57 AM

Here’s my solution to the ethanol problem.

Stop putting it motor fuel, and start drinking it. The US would again rule the world if done properly. Currently EPA mandates around 14 billion gallons ethanol be used in motor fuels. If this amount is cut 50-50 with water, that would be 28 billion gallons of 100 proof vodka. That would be 5 gallons of vodka for every man, woman and child in the world.

That amount should be just given away, worldwide. Talk about buying votes. No longer would we be worried about illegal immigrants voting. Whether from Ireland, Mexico or Russia they would vote for every incumbent by way of absentee ballot.

Hey senators, this is job security for you.

Corky Boyd on June 22, 2013 at 9:03 AM

I never put ethanol blended gas in my car. There are many stations in my area that offer 100% gasoline, no ethanol.

mbs on June 22, 2013 at 8:47 AM

You are a lucky poster, that also means that you live outside the progressive prisons known as democrat-run cities.

slickwillie2001 on June 22, 2013 at 10:03 AM

Good grief, there is a lot of ignorance in comments here. The vast majority of ethanol plants are actually majority owned by local farmers. It matters little what sign is on the place. They cannot get subsidies (which are all state subsidies) without the plants being owned by farmers. ADM is not small potatoes compared to POET and Valero. Also, much of ADM’s ethanol prodution is in conjunction with corn starch and industrial products made from corn. BIG DIFFERENCE.

Since thousands of small (say under 1000 acres) farmers could go bankrupt if the mandate is lifted, I don’t see the bill passing. It will not be voted on by senators from ND, SD, MN, WI, NE, KS, IA, MO, IN, OH and likely not KY.

Aren’t many of those GOP senators?

Kermit on June 22, 2013 at 10:15 AM

slickwillie2001 on June 22, 2013 at 10:03 AM

There are at least two in Baton Rouge and they are owned by Allahu Akbar kinda folks.

Kermit on June 22, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Since E85 has lower MPG, lowering driving range, it’s slightly lower per gallon price than normal gasoline make it not worth the change.

Total waste of time, from start to finish. It needs to be stopped.

virgo on June 22, 2013 at 1:16 PM

There are at least two in Baton Rouge and they are owned by Allahu Akbar kinda folks.

Kermit on June 22, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Who freaking cares, just so long as a) they don’t push the RoP crap on you and b) their prices are aren’t much worse than any other normal station.

BillH on June 22, 2013 at 2:26 PM