Heartland Institute Experts Comment on Renewable Fuel Standard Bill in Congress

April 10, 2013

Today, Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Steve Womack (R-AR), Peter Welch (D-VT) and Jim Costa (D-CA) introduced legislation to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The bill would eliminate the corn ethanol mandate, reduce the cellulosic ethanol mandate, and cap ethanol blends at 10 percent, called E10.

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 jlakely@heartland.org and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.

“The renewable fuel standard is a solution in search of a problem. Thanks to the boom in domestic natural gas production, we’re enjoying cleaner air and lower carbon emissions while foreign energy producers are struggling to compete. The RFS, on the other hand, failed to accomplish any of those goals. I’m happy to see bipartisan action being taken to put people ahead of special interests.”

Taylor Smith
Policy Analyst
The Heartland Institute

“Ethanol mandates provide no appreciable economic benefits. For vehicle owners, ethanol raises fuel costs and delivers lower mileage. For food consumers, ethanol raises food prices by unnecessarily diverting much of the nation’s food supply to fuel. For ranchers, ethanol raises livestock feed costs. For environmentalists, ethanol production uses exorbitant amounts of water, encourages the development of marginal crop lands that would otherwise be left in a more natural state, and provides no net emissions benefits.”

“Outside of a narrow band of powerful special interest groups, there is almost universal agreement that ethanol subsidies and benefits do far more harm than good. I applaud these courageous congressmen for taking on the ethanol special interests on behalf of the American people.”

James M. Taylor
Senior fellow for Environmental Policy
The Heartland Institute

“Rep. Goodlatte should be applauded for trying to bring common sense back to our country’s gas policy. Burning food for fuel hurts families struggling to fill their gas tanks and put food on their table all at the same time. Mandating the use of ethanol and other biofuels was an ill-conceived policy from the start.”

John Nothdurft
Director of Government Relations
The Heartland Institute

“If the Obama administration really wanted to bring down fuel costs and, thereby, stimulate the American economy, it would abolish the Renewable Fuels Standard – which requires a phantom fuel, cellulosic ethanol (made from wood chips, switchgrass, and agricultural waste, such as corn cobs) to be blended into gasoline. Despite hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars being poured into commercial production, virtually none has ever been produced and the recipient companies went bankrupt – a la Solyndra.

“Yet, refiners are still required to blend cellulosic ethanol into gasoline and pay more than $8 million a year in fines because they cannot blend the non-existent fuel into America’s gas supply. Who really pays that $8 million? The consumers through the price at the pump.

“A DC Court of Appeals ruling smacked down the Environmental Protection Agency for projecting far too much production of cellulosic ethanol for 2012. In response, the EPA doubled down and increased the mandate for 2013 – which will add even more to the cost of a gallon of gas. Legislation introduced today to reform the RFS is an important step toward bringing common sense into American energy policy.”

Marita Noon
Executive Director
Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy

The Heartland Institute is a 29-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.