The ethanol industry is displeased with a recent report on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that is not favorable to corn-based ethanol. The report, “10-Year Review of the Renewable Fuels Standard: Impacts to the Environment, The Economy, and Advanced Biofuels Development,” was published by the Agricultural & Resources Economics Department at the University of Tennessee. The report was commissioned by the American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF) who the ethanol industry is saying is in the front pocket of Big Oil.
“Clearly this study was published with an agenda and without regard to the facts. It is misleading, inaccurate and runs counter to a large body of expert research,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “Slapping a new title on this previously discredited research won’t change the facts, and those who published this study clearly have little interest in doing anything other than maintaining the status quo of our dangerous addiction to foreign oil and fossil fuels.”
One area the report attempts to “debunk” is the environmental benefits of ethanol going so far as to say that with the exception of CO2 reductions, corn-based ethanol is worse than Big Oil. However, Argonne National Laboratory, along with dozens of other independent studies, have shown the opposite. For example, a recent study by the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Energy Resource Center concluded that the EPA’s RFS proposal to decrease ethanol use by 1.6 billion gallons in 2015 could increase CO2 emissions by 4,520,000 metric tons that year.
Buis says, “The facts are clear….ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by an average of 34 percent compared to gasoline, even when the highly controversial and disputed theory of Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) is factored into the modeling. Furthermore, Argonne has found that without ILUC included, ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 57 percent compared to gasoline.”
Another are the report attacks ethanol is with regards to subsidies saying since the 80s they have been in the billions. While the report did acknowledge that first generation subsidies were phased out several years ago, it did not acknowledge that the oil industry has been receiving subsidies and tax breaks for more than 100 years – a practice that continues today. In fact, it’s about $5 billion per year and hundreds of billions globally.
Geoff Cooper, senior vice president with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) says in response to the report, “Over the past decade the Renewable Fuel Standard has proven time and time again why it is our nation’s most successful energy policy. “Its impact on our nation’s energy security, economy, and environment is unmatched. The RFS was passed by a bi-partisan Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush with the goal of ensuring that biofuels have a place in a market that is overwhelmingly and unfairly dominated by Big Oil.”
“At the end of the day, added Cooper, “the biggest winner, with respect to the RFS, has been our nation’s consumers who have been given more affordable choices at the pump, and have also been provided with a safe, clean source of home-grown energy.”