Report paints RFS as bad for Ohio, global warming

Source: Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, November 6, 2015

On the heels of a multimillion-dollar TV ad campaign against the renewable fuel standard in Ohio, a conservative think tank released a report yesterday highlighting the biofuel mandate’s effects in the Buckeye State.

The Center for Regulatory Solutions report, released ahead of the U.N. climate conference in Paris, says that since 2005 the RFS has produced an additional 1.92 million metric tons of CO2 emissions in Ohio, 5,000 tons of volatile organic compounds and 28,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and a study from Jason Hill, a researcher at the University of Minnesota.

For 2005 to 2014, air impacts were calculated using the life-cycle greenhouse and criteria pollutant emissions associated with corn ethanol production and consumption relative to gasoline, using the methodology in the Hill study.

According to a survey from the center included in the report, 45 percent of Ohioans disagree with the increased use of corn ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply each year, and one-quarter said they “strongly disagree.” The phone survey of 600 registered voters had a 4-point margin of error.

“Our report puts the spotlight directly on the failures of Washington’s corn ethanol mandate for Ohio,” said Karen Kerrigan, the center’s president.

As the U.N. climate conference nears, the debate over the climate impacts of corn ethanol grows more intense. Backers of the fuel say that it reduces emissions overall and that conventional corn ethanol provides a gateway to more sustainable, low-carbon advanced biofuels (Greenwire, Oct. 20).

In Ohio, one of the top corn-producing states, 3.4 million acres were harvested last year, slightly more than in Missouri, according to Agriculture Department statistics.

In April, U.S. EPA and oil trade groups reached a legal settlement that requires the agency to finalize the annual volume requirements for 2014, 2015 and 2016, as well as the biodiesel mandate for 2017, by Nov. 30. The deadline has intensified messaging from both supporters and dissenters of ethanol. The National Farmers Union is expected to release its own poll this afternoon showing that voters in rural areas are more likely to vote for candidates who support the RFS.

The Center for Regulatory Solutions is a project of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council. The analysis also found that the lower energy content of ethanol relative to gasoline resulted in $440 million in additional transportation fuel costs.

The center’s report is being released in Ohio as a series of television ads run through November. The American Council for Capital Formation paid for the ads in Ohio, as well as Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont (E&E Daily, Nov. 3).

Yesterday, 184 House lawmakers wrote a letter to EPA urging the agency not to proceed with its proposed 2016 volumes for ethanol, which would increase the biofuel supply to more than 10 percent of the total U.S. fuel pool.

Click here to read the CRS report.