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Opinion

End ethanol mandate

| Thursday, May 24, 2012, 6:20 p.m.

The Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) mandates that 36 billion gallons of ethanol be blended into gasoline by 2022, or nearly 40 percent of the gasoline market as forecast by the Department of Energy. This statutory ethanol mandate (monopoly) was contrary to the then-policy (since 1981) of relying on competitive markets, letting consumers select preferred fuels consistent with meeting environmental standards.

The RFS mandate has been given only to ethanol and not other fuels/blends, including compressed natural gas, hydrogen, electric vehicles, butanol and others. Mandates prevent competition. Worse yet, they give the beneficiaries -- ethanol producers -- guaranteed markets.

If the U.S. government were to decide to mandate not only ethanol but electric and hybrid cars, natural gas cars, hydrogen cars and possibly others, the result would be chaos. But why should ethanol fuel be given mandate preference when there are other fuels with the advantage of reducing petroleum imports?

About 13 billion gallons of ethanol were blended into gasoline in 2011, or about 10 percent of the gasoline market, but ethanol still costs more than gasoline. Thirteen billion gallons is about the limit that can be blended, as the vast majority of the U.S. vehicle fleet can use only 10-percent-ethanol blended gasoline.

The RFS should be repealed and transportation fuel markets returned to a competitive market policy.

Ken G. Glozer

Ashburn, Va.

The writer, author of the book "Corn Ethanol: Who Pays? Who Benefits?" and former president of D.C.-based energy consulting firm OMB Professionals, spent 26 years working on energy, environment and agriculture issues in the White House Office of Management and Budget.

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