IT'S TIME FOR CONGRESS TO END THE ETHANOL MANDATE
Date: February 6, 2015
By: Bob Goodlatte
Some have called it a “well-intentioned flop” while others say it’s an anti-competitive government mandate, but whatever you call the ethanol mandate, or Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), it’s clear this policy has caused many negative consequences for American consumers.
Few issues in Congress have such broad support for true reform. Livestock producers, environmental groups, food manufacturers, food aid groups, restaurant owners, boat owners, motorcyclists, and energy producers all share concerns about the ethanol mandate. In fact, in the last Congress more than 218 bipartisan Members of Congress agreed that RFS needs to be re-examined. That is largely because the RFS has such a far-reaching impact on consumers and our economy, both locally and throughout the nation. This policy mandates that 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels be part of our nation’s fuel supply by 2022 whether we need it or not. A vast majority of this is being fulfilled by ethanol made from corn, diverting food and feed stocks to energy production and adding more potentially engine damaging ethanol to gasoline.
The ethanol mandate is a true “kitchen table” issue. This unworkable policy impacts every American family trying to make financial decisions. From food costs to wear and tear on the family car or lawnmower, the RFS means added costs and less money for other purchases. It certainly impacts the cost of doing business for many, but it’s the consumers who ultimately shoulder the costs of this broken policy. This is one of the concerns I consistently hear from folks in the Sixth District whether they run a restaurant, farm for a living, have seen an engine ruined by ethanol, or have noticed an increase in their grocery bills. Higher volumes of ethanol in fuel also decrease fuel efficiency and can mean more trips to the gas station.
This week, I introduced the RFS Elimination Act to stop this boondoggle of a policy in its tracks. This bill eliminates the ethanol mandate and makes ethanol compete in the free market. While I support full repeal of the ethanol mandate, this measure does not yet have the bipartisan support needed to become law. Fortunately, growing support from lawmakers in the House and Senate, as well as a diverse coalition of over 50 organizations, signals that there is momentum in Congress to achieve real reforms of the RFS. The RFS Reform Act, which I also introduced this week, makes important reforms to this federal mandate, including eliminating corn-based ethanol requirements and capping the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline at 10 percent. As we continue to work towards full repeal, the RFS Reform Act is a common sense solution to help curb some of the most harmful effects of this federal mandate.
Free market solutions that put consumers, small businesses, and American families first should always be the choice over top-down government mandates. That’s why it’s abundantly clear that the RFS isn’t working, and it’s up to Congress to take action to fix this broken policy.