Heartland Institute Experts React to New EPA Ethanol Rule
The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday announced a reduction of the ethanol mandate in America’s gasoline supply for 2014, dropping it from 18.15 billion gallons to about 15 billion gallons.
The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday announced a reduction of the ethanol mandate in America’s gasoline supply for 2014, dropping it from 18.15 billion gallons to about 15 billion gallons. This is the first time EPA has reduced, instead of added to, the ethanol mandate.
The following statements from energy and environment policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at firstname.lastname@example.org and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.
“EPA’s decision to reduce the ethanol mandate reflects a long-overdue realization that ethanol mandates not only cost consumers money, but they also inflict substantial environmental damage. The only beneficiaries of ethanol mandates are special interests who use the power of government to profit off of the American people.
“EPA will do right by consumers and the environment if the agency announces additional reductions in the future. Congress, of course, can and should take its own action to eliminate ethanol subsidies and mandates.”
“The renewable fuel industry has reacted to EPA’s announcement as if something big has been taken away from them, when technically nothing has been taken away from them, just less will be given to them in the future.
“The oil industry’s heavy lobbying may be blamed for EPA’s announcement, but ethanol’s failure to lower CO2 emissions or reduce oil use or oil imports since the law was passed has just as much if not more to do with it.”
“If ever a government was putting its head in the sand and ignoring all that is going on around it, this example of EPA and our president deciding to redouble their efforts on producing renewable fuel at ridiculously high costs is an example of the ostrich-head-in-the sand approach.
“The nation and the world is awakening to the fact that the United States is once again (we were in 1950) the richest energy country in the world, producing more oil and gas than either Russia or Saudi Arabia, or anyplace else.
“The development of horizontal drilling (turning a drill bit from vertical to horizontal over a few hundred feet of curvature) and the use of hydraulic fracturing (which has been in use for 60 years in vertical oil wells without a single incidence of groundwater contamination) has been a game changer for the U.S. today and will be for the world tomorrow. It is clear now that our energy resources in the form of oil and gas developed within our shores will support our needs for centuries to come and will solve most of our economic problems by bringing manufacturing and jobs of all kinds back upon our shores.
“There may have been a time when we worried over our own energy and the need to import so much fuel, but that day is clearly over. The subsidies for expensive renewable fuels may have been warranted when we did not see a way out in the future. But to continue as though our new energy riches did not exist would be similar to ignoring our telecommunication revolution by supporting operator-assisted telephones with party lines. It may be sad that buggy-whip manufacturers went out of business with the advent of the automobile, but life goes on with amazing advances. Shale gas and oil is one of those advances that eliminate the continued need to subsidize forms of energy that can not cut it in the market place.”
“The energy world looks totally different today than it did when Congress passed the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2005 and revised it to increase the percentage of ethanol to be blended into gasoline in 2007. At the time there was a genuine belief that we were running out of oil – scarcity was our reality. Growing our gasoline sounded like a really good idea. Today, the paradigm is upended. Ethanol has not proven itself to be the panacea it was predicted to be and the only energy shortage we have is due to an access shortage.
“We now know that we are producing more oil in America than we are importing and the trend line for imports is declining while domestic production is increasing. If more federal lands were opened up for drilling and the Keystone pipeline was approved, U.S. oil production would increase dramatically. Hopefully the EPA’s decision to revise the total renewable volume obligations downward is the first of many that will lead to more responsible energy policy. Ultimately, the entire mandate must be eliminated.”
“This is one small step towards reducing punitive government regulations of the fuel industries. The mandate increases the costs of food, without any public benefit. Supported by politicians of both political parties, the mandate was claimed to reduce dependence on oil from unstable parts of the world. That concept has been rendered obsolete by private initiative, especially smart drilling – employing precision drilling, multiport hydraulic fracturing, sand, and a few chemicals to produce oil from dense shale. In October, U.S. oil production exceeded imports. The U.S. production can be supplemented by imports from stable countries such as Canada.
“It is time for Washington to approve the Keystone pipeline from Canada and to open lands controlled by Washington to development of oil and gas. According to the Energy Information Agency, in 2012 the production of oil, natural gas, natural gas liquids, and coal on federally controlled lands all fell – the result of arbitrary and needless regulations from Washington. Such regulations need to be removed for the benefit of the public.”
“The use of ethanol to reduce CO2 emissions is a monumental example of the muddled logic of green-think. To reduce emissions, the total CO2 emitted in ethanol’s entire chain of production and use would have to be less than that of fossil fuels. This is doubtful and at best would be marginal.
“In addition, the recycling of CO2 between biofuels and the plants from which they are derived is also rate limited. Only about half of total annual emissions are taken up by natural sinks and these do not discriminate in favor of CO2 molecules from ethanol. Even if all fossil fuels were replaced by biofuels the increase in atmospheric CO2 would continue. For biofuels to reduce atmospheric CO2 would demand a huge increase in the rate of CO2 uptake by the plant biosphere. This would require large increases in plant biomass. Simply using existing agricultural production for biofuel instead of other uses or replacing natural vegetation with biofuel crops does nothing to reduce CO2 emissions or its level in the atmosphere.
“There is no reduction in CO2 emissions from burning ethanol instead of fossil fuel. Any reduction in atmospheric CO2 must come from either decreased use of carbon-based fuels or increased uptake of CO2 in geological and biological sinks. In reality biofuels can only increase CO2 emissions as they generate similar levels of emissions to fossil fuels when burned but also require the use of significantly greater amounts of fossil fuels to produce them than do fossil fuels themselves.”
“About the only thing ‘green’ about biofuels is the tens of billions of dollars taken from taxpayers and consumers and funneled to politicians, who dole the cash out to friendly constituents, who then return some of it as campaign contributions, to get the pols reelected, to perpetuate the gravy train. This corruption is merely more ‘refined’ than the Third World variety. Fortunately, some Democrats are finally questioning their party’s ‘steadfast support’ for policies that promote ‘renewable’ energy over oil and gas. Unfortunately, some Republicans still can’t say no to ethanol.”
“While some are celebrating the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to reduce the 2014 renewable-fuel standard, left unspoken is the fact that there is no basis nor reason for the government to require the blending of ethanol with gasoline.
“The justification is that it reduces so-called greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide, to ward off a ‘global warming’ that was always a hoax and which has been thoroughly discredited by the fact that the Earth has been in a natural cooling cycle for over 15 years or more. In addition, climatologists and others have long since concluded that carbon dioxide plays no role in determining the Earth’s climate.
“The ethanol mandate has long been a political sop to corn farmers, distorting agricultural options to grow other grains. As tons of corn are used to produce ethanol, it has driven up the price of the remaining harvest which is used in countless food products, as feed for livestock, and in industrial applications as well. In turn, the cost of food has risen. Consumers pay the price for this scam at the gas pump and in the food aisles of their supermarket.
“The EPA should end the ethanol mandates and permit the marketplace for corn be governed by supply and demand without diverting tons of corn to be converted into a fuel that is neither needed nor wanted. Ethanol damages combustion engines whether in a car or a lawn mower. It provides lower mileage. Lower the required amounts? No, get rid of it entirely.”
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