The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Strong Public Concern About RFS Impacts

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted October 2, 2013

Results from a new public opinion poll strongly suggest that action by EPA and Congress is warranted on the flawed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Key findings from the Harris Interactive survey of more than 1,000 registered voters:

  • 77 percent said they’re concerned that using fuels containing ethanol blends above a 10 percent level can cause severe damage to car engines and fuel system components. They’re concerned that most auto manufacturers do not warranty their vehicles if the car’s owner runs it on fuels with a 15 percent ethanol blend.
  • 69 percent are concerned that diverting more and more corn into making ethanol will result in higher food costs.
  • 66 percent say regulation by the federal government could drive up the cost of gasoline for consumers.

Bob Greco, API’s downstream group director, discussed the poll results and the RFS during a conference call with reporters:

“While renewable fuels play an important part of our nation’s energy portfolio, voters are concerned about the significant damage the RFS-mandated higher ethanol blends could cause to automobiles, motorcycles and almost every type of gasoline powered engine ... from leaf blowers to snowmobiles. … The public gets it.”

The Blend Wall InfographicThe risks associated with the RFS warrant a pair of actions, Greco said. First, EPA should immediately waive down its 2014 ethanol mandate under the RFS to below 10 percent, providing protection for individual Americans and giving Congress time to act. Second, Congress must repeal the RFS once and for all. Greco:

“We view it as a two-step process. We need EPA to take off the immediate pressure for 2014 by coming in below 10 percent for ethanol. But that doesn’t relieve Congress of the responsibility to address this long-term. … The RFS is broken. We need to address it in its entirety and it involves action both by EPA in the short-term and Congress in the long-term. … The whole issue of the Renewable Fuel Standard is ... that it's a bipartisan concern that’s been raised. It bridges the types of divides that are causing consternation in Congress right now. It is ripe for a bipartisan solution.”

Greco also pointed out that the use of higher ethanol blends can result in significantly higher consumer fuel costs. That’s not API saying it. That’s according to EPA’s own fuel-economy website. Meanwhile, a report by NERA Economic Consulting says that increasing ethanol mandates under the RFS could increase gasoline costs 30 percent and diesel costs 300 percent by 2015. Greco:

“The fact is America’s energy-from-shale revolution has made the RFS an obsolete relic of our country’s decades-long era of energy scarcity. As an emerging energy leader with abundant supplies of domestic oil and natural gas, it makes little sense to keep pushing a solution to fix a problem that no longer exists … especially when it could harm consumers and devastate our economy.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.