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

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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David Strom 5:21 PM on December 09, 2022