Ag Secretary Vilsack: You know what we really need? More advanced biofuels!

Spare us, can’t you? Because it would be really great if we could all just stop pretending that the federal government’s protestations of love for biofuels is about anything other than keeping their BFFs, Big Ethanol, happy. Looking at you, Vilsack.

The ethanol industry is again being threatened and U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack is putting out a warning to leaders in states like Nebraska, the nation’s number-two ethanol producer. Vilsack says ethanol is clean-burning, renewable and helps reduce dependence on foreign oil.

“This is an important industry to agriculture. It’s an important industry to consumers of this country because you absolutely pay less at the pump because we have a healthy renewable fuels industry,” Vilsack told reporters after his private meetings at the statehouse. “The renewable fuels standard is the lynchpin to that healthy industry. It’s also the lynchpin to further investments in advanced biofuels that will allow us to expand significantly beyond corn-based ethanol, which will be a good thing.”

Vilsack says U-S senators is oil-producing states are pushing legislation that would get rid of the renewable fuels standard.

Yes, that’s because nobody likes the Renewable Fuels Standard except you. Plenty of environmentalists aren’t fans of biofuels, because they incentivize bringing marginal lands into production and have very questionable net effects in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. The government’s special treatment of ethanol jacks up food prices at home and abroad, distorts market signals, and wastes taxpayer dollars, so I doubt the informed consumer is amused. The auto industry certainly isn’t endeared, since studies have shown ethanol blends gum up cars, and obviously, traditional fuel indutries aren’t really into it. Yeah, pretty sure it’s just the federal government and their cronyish agribusiness interests.

Speaking of, remember that lawsuit last month in which oil groups sued the EPA, which was trying to punish said oil groups for failing to comply with a cellulosic biofuels mandate… for biofuels that still do not exist? The appeals court ruled that the EPA couldn’t enforce the mandate for 2012, but didn’t dissolve the mandate altogether — and the interested lobbies are trying to take that one to the highest court in the land.

A coalition of industry groups asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to reconsider a lower court’s finding in favor of the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2011 decision to allow sales of the high-ethanol fuel blend known as E15.

In a petition to the High Court, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and several groups representing the food industry are seeking to overturn January’s ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The appellate court sided with EPA’s permitting the sale of E15 – gasoline with 15 percent ethanol, rather than the standard 10-percent blend – for cars made after 2001. …

“Had EPA stayed within its statutory authority and followed proper procedures, it would have waited until ongoing E15 testing on engines and fuel systems was completed before allowing the use of E15,” said Bob Greco, API’s director of downstream and industry operations. “Then it would have discovered that E15 is not safe for millions of vehicles now on the road.”