The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Poll: Americans Sound Off on RFS

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted April 6, 2016

We can sum up new polling on Americans’ perceptions of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and its potential impact on their lives in a word: concerned.

Make that very concerned – about potential damage to their vehicles, about the broad economic effects of breaching the ethanol “blend wall” and about diverting corn away from the global food supply to manufacture ethanol.

Significant results from the survey of 1,013 registered voters by Harris Poll:

  • 77 percent are concerned that auto manufacturers have said that they may not provide warranty coverage for vehicle damage caused by higher ethanol fuel blends greater than 10 percent if the vehicle wasn’t specifically designed to use it. That includes 84 percent of Republicans, 75 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of Independents.

  • 77 percent are concerned that government regulations could cause a breach in the blend wall, requiring more ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply than can be absorbed as E10 gasoline, which one study said could increase the price of gasoline by up to 26 cents per gallon. That included 85 percent of Republicans, 75 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of Independents.
  • 76 percent are concerned that using more corn for ethanol production – beyond the more than 40 percent of the corn crop currently used for ethanol – could increase food prices in the U.S. and increase hunger among the world’s poor. That included 81 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of Democrats and 74 percent of Independents.

API Downstream Group Director Frank Macchiarola briefed reporters on the poll results:

“Across the political spectrum, voters are concerned about the significant damage the RFS mandate and higher ethanol blends could cause to automobiles, motorcycles and almost every type of gasoline powered engine. … A vast majority of Americans are deeply concerned by the consequences of this broken RFS policy. In other words, the public gets it. Regardless of party affiliation, voters are concerned with mandates that force too much ethanol into our fuel supply.”

The American people are speaking on the RFS. In this election year, it’s important that candidates hear them and act – to repeal or significantly reform a flawed program that has become obsolete in the wake of surging domestic oil and natural gas production. Macchiarola said Americans aren’t using as much gasoline as was projected they would when the current RFS program was enacted in 2007. As a result, more ethanol is being forced into the fuel supply than today’s vehicles can safely use. Macchiarola:

“We continue to advocate for the repeal or significant reform of the RFS to protect consumers over the long-term. We are also calling on EPA to reduce the 2017 ethanol mandate to no more than 9.7 percent of total gasoline demand. … We will use this poll to remind members of Congress and the administration that American voters are very concerned about the costs and consequences of this unworkable and unnecessary mandate.”

The RFS is a broken policy whose continued implementation could result in dire consequences for the broader economy, as well as negative impacts on consumers. Action is needed to protect the property and interests of everyday Americans, as well as the economy.


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.