Corn Commentary

RFS Opponents Not Giving Up

The waiver didn’t work, so now opponents of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) are using every other tactics in the book to try and get the standard reformed or repealed.

Last week, the American Petroleum Institute held a press conference calling for the elimination of the RFS. “We believe the Renewable Fuels Standard is unworkable and should be repealed,” said API Downstream Group Director Robert Greco. “There is a fundamental flaw in the enabling statute so the only way to fix it is to scrap the law and start over if Congress believes such a program is necessary.

In a one-two punch, the National Council of Chain Restaurants then released a new report on the impact of the RFS on food prices and small business which concluded that “the RFS mandate could cost chain restaurants up to $3.2 billion annually, with quick-service restaurants witnessing cost increases upward of $2.5 billion, and full-service restaurants seeing increases upward of $691 million.”

Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) hopes the study will get him support in Congress for his “The Renewable Fuels Elimination Act” HR3098. “This is a bipartisan effort,” Goodlatte said, noting that a letter to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson encouraging a waiver of the RFS was signed by 156 members of the House. “That group provides a basis for moving forward with legislation that would do what unfortunately she chose not to do.”

Listen to Goodlatte’s comments here: Congressman Bob Goodlatte

The fast food chain study was quickly debunked by corn farmers and ethanol producers. “They lost in their bid for a waiver of the RFS, so now they are resorting to super-sized myths about the impact of the RFS on food prices. Every reasonable analysis of the factors influencing food prices has concluded that the cost of diesel fuel, gasoline, and other energy inputs is the major driver,” said Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen, who calls the study more of a “book report” that cherry-picks results from other studies that support their analysis.

Listen to an interview with Dinneen: RFA president Bob Dinneen

National Corn Growers Association president Pam Johnson notes that the NCCR study looks at only two possible scenarios regarding the economic impact of the RFS. “When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its look at the RFS earlier this month, its researchers looked at 500 scenarios and made the right decision to reject an unnecessary waiver request,” said Johnson. Of those 500 scenarios, EPA found 445 of them showed ‘no impacts from the RFS program at all’ when it comes to corn, food and fuel prices.

“Further, the study falsely states that more corn goes into ethanol than other uses. Its reliance on the general USDA categories without diving deeper ignored the fact that nearly twice as much corn is used for livestock feed than for ethanol,” Johnson added.

There are other flaws in the study but that will not stop the RFS opponents from pressing forward with the goal of eliminating a program that has been successful in diversifying the nation’s fuel supply. “They are pulling out all the stops,” Dinneen says, which means that the industry must do all it can do to get accurate information out to lawmakers, regulators and the general public.