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You can help reform the Renewable Fuel Standard

So we think we have problems with E10 and E15? How does E30 or E40 grab you? It’s certainly being kicked around at the Environmental Protection Agency, according to Marine Retailers Association of the Americas’ Washington-based lobbyist Larry Innis.

Under MRAA president Matt Gruhn, the organization recently joined a coalition called “Smart Fuel Future” (www.smarterfuelfuture.org) that is spearheading a move to reform the ethanol mandate contained in the Renewable Fuel Standard. Other coalition members include BoatUS and the National Marine Manufacturers Association. And while the latter is reviewing options for possible continued litigation against EPA over its waiver to allow E15, the Smart Fuel Future coalition is on the attack to get the ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard waived.

So just what is the Renewable Fuel Standard? Simply, it’s the root of the ethanol debacle.

In 2007, Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act, establishing the Renewable Fuel Standard by mandating a minimum quantity of ethanol be put into the nation’s gasoline supply annually. Talk about pipe dreams? It was “sold” as a ticket to energy independence. They said it was good for the environment. It would even lower gas prices. Not! As we all know now, none of these are true and, in fact, ethanol takes more energy to produce than it produces.

In calling for Renewable Fuel Standard reform, the MRAA, NMMA and BoatUS aren’t alone. Another coalition of livestock and poultry groups is now after Congress to reform the standard. They are struggling to secure corn for animal feed as reduced supplies due to the drought push corn prices to a record high of $8 per bushel. In turn, we are also struggling with skyrocketing costs for basic foods. Still, the Renewable Fuel Standard mandates 40 percent of our diminished corn supply to ethanol production.

But this might be an opportune time to get reform. Enter the worst drought in the Midwest since the 1950s. It’s believed 89 percent of the nation’s corn crop has been affected by the drought. The harvest will be greatly reduced and it raises a serious new question for all of us: What should be government’s priority — affordable food or ethanol in our tanks?

Momentum for reform is growing. Petitions to waive the ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard have been filed with the EPA by 156 members of the House, 25 senators and eight governors (from Arkansas, Virginia, Texas, North Carolina, Maryland, Georgia, Delaware, New Mexico). As a result, the EPA is currently seeking public comments until Sept. 26 on the petition. You can (should) weigh in urging a waiver to the Renewable Fuel Standard by visiting www.regulations.gov and submitting your comment today.

In spite of the overwhelmingly favorable arguments for waiving the Renewable Fuel Standard, it won’t be easy. Truth is the Renewable Fuel Standard is the Holy Grail for the ethanol producers and they’ll oppose any change. After all, the standard literally hands them a guaranteed market. It’s clearly why the producers didn’t cry foul when their ethanol tax credit recently expired so they could earn political “points” for a fight to keep the far more lucrative Renewable Fuel Standard.

Points or not, it’s past time for the EPA to recognize the folly of maintaining the Renewable Fuel Standard. The MRAA is calling on all state and regional marine trade associations to add their names to the “Smart Fuel Future” email list by going to www.smarterfuelfuture.org as well as encouraging their members to make comments to EPA by Sept. 26.

Comments

9 comments on “You can help reform the Renewable Fuel Standard

  1. CaptA

    Norm,

    I see your point about ethanol–I truly do. There are environmental benefits to using ethanol–the science is clear on this point. I also understand the problems is causes with boats—that is clear as well. Instead of fighting the EPA, how about trying to come up with a cost-effective solution that provides both environmental benefits and ease of use for boaters? To me, that seems to be a more productive use of time, effort, and money.

  2. Marc DePeel

    CaptA – I am not so sure that the science is sides with you on the emissions. According to many people, it is more harmful to the environment. Nor is it cost effective.

  3. CaptP

    I am for a clean environment just as much as the next guy…..but the EPA is making demands and dictating standards that are way ahead of the current technology. The thing that really bothers me about ethanol is that the manufactures of my lawn tractor, my leaf blower, my weed wacker, and my ATV, all warn against using ethanol enhanced fuel. They specifically recommend using non-ethanol gasoline only! Why is that? If we are to believe that ethanol is the answer to our pollution woes, why then are we made to use it when it harms so many of our gasoline engines?

  4. CaptA

    Gentlemen,

    I am well versed in air emission controls and energy. The science is our side. The benefits for air pollition control are very clear. I have read the studies, I know engineering from all over the world that use ethanol. It is a closed issued from a science stand point as it relates to air emissions and the environment. The main issue is what percent of ethanol in gasolone is optimum to produce a reasonable Cost/Benefit curve for emissions.

    However, with regards for use in boat operations—there are clearly some down sides. There is no reason why the boating industry should not be advocating for finding a mutual beneificial solution.

    What evidence is there to support claims EPA’s demands are not caught up with the science of ethanol and emission reductions.

    Here are some of the studies:

    http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/Ginnebaugh2010.pdf

    http://www.afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/flexible_fuel_emissions.html

    http://www.mendeley.com/research/emissions-light-duty-gasoline-vehicles-operating-low-blend-ethanol-gasoline-e85/

    “The results of the statistical analysis suggest that the use of E10 results in statistically significant decreases in CO emissions (-16%); statistically significant increases in emissions of NMHC (9%), NMOG (14%), acetaldehyde (108%), 1,3-butadiene (16%), and benzene (15%); and no statistically significant changes in NOX, CO2, CH4, N2O or formaldehyde emissions. The statistical analysis suggests that the use of E85 results in statistically significant decreases in emissions of NOX (-45%), NMHC (-48%), 1,3-butadiene (-77%), and benzene (-76%); statistically significant increases in emissions of formaldehyde (73%) and acetaldehyde (2540%), and no statistically significant change in CO, CO2, and NMOG emissions.”

  5. C Moore

    Capt A is an enviromental troll.
    Most likely Capt Abob from past posts on enviro subjects here.
    These trolls have internet crawlers looking for key words like ethanol then they post the diatribe of studies like above.

    What they never tell you or say is that you get far less efficency using these junk gas blends.
    Our northern clean Canadians neighbors do not mix ethanol or other additives into the gas they use.
    They also understand it’s a fool that converts his food source into his energy source.
    I’m posting this link on all our facebook pages & websites. It’s time to mobilize to save our industry.
    Thank you Norm

  6. AnonymousBob

    Sorry to disappoint you C Moore, but I hate ethanol. I’m sure there are better, cheaper, and more efficient alternatives, but the energy lobby has bought Congress so corn-based ethanol is probably here to stay.

  7. CaptA

    @C Moore. That is the best you can do? Attack me for being an “environmental troll”? Would you like be to mail you the 10 studies I have in my office? Hoe about supplying some evidence to the contrary or is your IQ so low you don’t have the ability or desire to read and research information that does not agree with your base less view of how the physical world works?

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