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The Renewable Fuel Standard Hurts Consumers

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Washington, October 12, 2018 | Pete Larkin (540-857-2672) | comments
Did you know corn is used in nearly 75 percent of the food we buy? However, due to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) a large portion of corn is being diverted from food products into gasoline tanks. This has created an artificial market for the ethanol industry that has led to an undue burden on American consumers. I have been critical of the RFS mandate since its passage in 2005. Since then, I’ve introduced legislation in every Congress that would protect farmers and other stakeholders from the harmful effects of the RFS, and put money back in consumer’s pockets.

The RFS created a market for the ethanol industry and, as a result, there has been an increase in food and feed stocks. Due to the mandate, 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels will be introduced into our national fuel supply by 2022, which has required that over 35% of the U.S. corn crop be diverted into fuel in 2018 alone. This policy, while initially drafted with good intentions, has created a chain reaction of forces hurting American consumers. Ethanol-blended gasoline has a lower energy density than that of traditional gasoline, which means traditional engines will burn fuel less efficiently, and Americans are forced to buy more fuel to make up the difference. Studies have shown that drivers in the U.S. pay at least $10 billion more each year for gasoline because of the RFS.

Additionally, the effects from this decade old legislation have harmed livestock production, caused food price instability, decreased fuel efficiency, damaged small-engine equipment, negatively impacts the environment, and continues to chip away at household budgets. American families and the economy have shouldered the costs of the ethanol mandate for far too long. My legislation, the RFS Elimination Act, would completely repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard. To compliment a full repeal of the RFS, I have also introduced the RFS Reform Act, which is a short-term solution that would fix many of the regulatory issues created by the mandate. The RFS Reform Act would eliminate corn-based ethanol requirements, cap the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline at 10 percent, and require the EPA to set cellulosic biofuel levels at production levels.

Renewable fuels play an important role in our energy policy. However, they should have to compete in a fair and consumer-driven marketplace. Congress created an artificial demand for ethanol that is distorting the food and feed market and creates a hidden tax on every American consumer. Congress must provide relief from these unintended consequences. Few issues in Congress have garnered such broad support for true reform; as livestock producers, environmental groups, food manufacturers, food aid groups, restaurant owners, boat owners, motorcyclists, and energy producers have all come out in support of RFS reform or elimination. The introduced legislation would bring much needed changes to this unworkable federal policy. I will continue to pressure Congress to act on both of my bills, so that we may reverse the negative effects this policy is having on consumers and our economy.

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