Majority of Americans support the RFS, trade group poll finds

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014

A majority of Americans support the renewable fuel standard and incentives to build up next-generation fuels, according to a new poll released yesterday by an ethanol trade group.
Sixty-five percent of polled Americans said they support the standard, which requires refiners to blend a certain amount of ethanol and advanced biofuels into petroleum gas and diesel each year.Sixty-six percent of Americans said they support incentives to help fund the expansion of next-generation fuels such as cellulosic ethanol, a fuel made from plant-based materials like grasses, agricultural wastes and woody biomass.Ethanol trade group Renewable Fuels Association commissioned the poll, which comes as federal biofuels policy remains under intense scrutiny on Capitol Hill and within the Obama administration. It was conducted by Republican polling firm American Viewpoint.

“Members of Congress and the Obama Administration should review this data before taking action to reduce or eliminate a program with broad national appeal and tangible energy and environmental benefits,” Bob Dinneen, RFA’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

The poll also found that 78 percent of Americans favor requiring automobile manufacturers to build cars capable of running on alternative fuel sources. Sixty-six percent of Americans said they oppose tax incentives for oil companies.

The poll questioned 1,000 American adults nationwide and was conducted via phone March 16-18. It had a 3.1-point margin of error.

In the same poll last year, 64 percent polled supported the renewable fuel standard. In 2012, 61 percent of Americans said they supported the biofuel policy.

“Despite the barrage of negative advertising targeting ethanol recently, ethanol’s image has held strong, largely unchanged from last year,” said Linda DiVall, president of American Viewpoint, in a statement.

Polling commissioned by the oil industry, however, has found consumers to be concerned about using corn-based ethanol. The majority of registered voters are concerned that ethanol will damage car engines and lead to increased consumer prices for groceries, according to an October poll commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute and conducted by Harris Interactive (E&ENews PM, Oct. 2, 2013).

API is pushing for repeal of the renewable fuel standard, while the Renewable Fuels Association is urging Congress to keep it intact.