The relief with which some industries welcomed the news that the Environmental Protection Agency is perhaps considering backing off somewhat from the onerous requirements of the Renewable Fuel Standard was only equaled by the dismay with which it was met from ethanol’s impressively well-organized and well-monied lobby. The EPA acknowledging the reality that even they and their expansive bureaucratic powers cannot interminably cudgel the energy sector unworkable mandates is a rarity indeed, and as they are still claiming that they have yet to make a final decision on the matter, it’s time for Come One, Come All over at the White House. Via The Hill:
Officials at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have been busy meeting with chemical and energy companies in recent days, ahead of the expected release of new biofuel standards. …
A version of the yearly target that has been leaked to media outlets “is a jobs killer,” National Biodiesel Board spokesman Ben Evans said in an emailed statement to The Hill. …
On Thursday, the trade group and six biodiesel producers with plants across the country met with Obama administration officials to plead their case.
In othermeetingsthis week, officials from the ethanol association Growth Energy, the chemical giant DuPont, biotech firm Novozymes, Delta Air Lines and energy companies including Monroe Energy, Abengoa and PBF Energy all met with White House and EPA staffers, according to meeting records.
Ugghhh. Advocates for/opponents against almost any government regulation or initiative will claim that anything contrary to the purposes is a “jobs killer,” but the fact of the matter here is that the Renewable Fuel Standard is itself a jobs killer. Sure, there are a good few people right now who have jobs because of the RFS, producing and administrating the biofuels that American refiners are required to blend into their product at ever-increasing rates; but on net evaluation, the RFS is a drag on our total economic growth in that it distorts market signals, diverts resources from their most valuable uses, and forces Americans to pay a higher price for a type of fuel that they obviously have no desire to buy (hence, you know, the mandate). Just for good measure, I might add that evidence abounds that the RFS contributes to higher food prices domestically and abroad and that corn-based ethanol is decidedly not the environmentally friendly resource it was once supposed to be.
But you’ve all heard this from me before, and this really is a hot fight going on on Capitol Hill and across the country; for more, I’ll direct you to a smart, succinct piece from AEI’s Mark Perry revealing the RFS for what it really is, and another from ethanol lobbyist Tom Buis published at Roll Call, arguing that “only renewable fuels like ethanol can keep us from oil dependence” and save us from the caprice of OPEC. (…I consciously attempted to type that out without snorting with laughter. Nope.)