Renewable fuel standards: Reduce them? End them
Published: Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
The Environmental Protection Agency's new openness to reducing 2014's ethanol mandate is welcome. But the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) it's part of never should have become law in the first place.
Making an all-too-rare move, the EPA is acknowledging how unrealistic ethanol mandates are in light of the refining industry's “blend wall” reality. With Americans driving less and cars more fuel-efficient, they're burning less gasoline blended with 10 percent ethanol, making it difficult for refiners to blend enough ethanol into enough gasoline to meet the mandate.
Yet easing the 2014 ethanol mandate would only reduce — by a bit — the harm done by RFS, without which the corn-based ethanol market wouldn't exist.
Taking more energy to produce than it yields as fuel, corn-based ethanol adds 5 to 10 cents per gallon to gasoline's price, according to The Wall Street Journal. And by diverting about a third of the U.S. corn crop for ethanol, on average, the fuel standards raise costs for food consumers and livestock producers, too.
Some say refiners should address the “blend wall” by upping gasoline's ethanol content to 15 percent. But “E15” lowers fuel efficiency and can damage engines and void vehicle warranties, making refiners and gas stations wary of liability.
Easing the 2014 ethanol mandate would be a step in the right direction — but better to do away entirely with RFS, a failed, market-distorting diktat that Washington never should have issued.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- ObamaCare & minimum wages: A double whammy
- The Monsour monstrosity
- ObamaCare: HIT’s hit
- Nelson Mandela: The real legacy