USA Today: Renewable fuels benefit consumers: Opposing view

Source: By Bob Dinneen, USA Today • Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The RFS has been an unmitigated success.

It is rare to see bipartisan support for anything in Washington. It is even rarer when that bipartisanship materializes around something as complex and divisive as energy policy. But that’s exactly what happened with passage of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in 2007.

That groundbreaking legislation passed the Senate 86-6 and the House by 314-100. The RFS required rapid growth in the consumption of renewable fuels, culminating in 36 billion gallons in 2022. In addition, the law required renewable fuels to meet certain environmental performance criteria and created specific categories for cellulosic and advanced biofuels.

OUR VIEW: End the ethanol mandate

Just seven years into that 15-year program, tremendous progress has been made. Renewable fuel consumption has grown dramatically. Dependence on petroleum, particularly imports, is down significantly. Gasoline imports are virtually non-existent.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector have fallen. The value of agricultural products is up. And communities across the country have benefited from the job creation, increased tax revenue and higher household income that stem from biorefineries.

Meanwhile, the doomsday outcomes threatened by opponents of the RFS simply have not materialized. Corn acres have fallen, agricultural land use has declined, the Gulf of Mexico “dead zone” continues to contract, and deforestation rates have fallen. Food price inflation has followed normal historical trends and thus has been lower than before the implementation of the RFS.

The RFS has been an unmitigated success. Except for one thing: The oil industry has lost market share and doesn’t like it. Big food companies also bristle at having to pay more for commodities; it eats into their profitability. But consumers have benefited as ethanol is less expensive than gasoline today.

If we are to ever realize the promise of the RFS, we must allow it to continue. New fuels and technologies are being commercialized. Markets for higher level blends are materializing. Now is not the time to pull the rug out from under investors and consumers who share the bipartisan vision of a more economic and environmentally secure energy future.

Bob Dinneen is president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association.