RFS amendment would set U.S. energy agenda back decades

By Holly Jessen | January 16, 2015

The ethanol industry is reacting to efforts in the U.S. Senate to add an amendment to the Keystone pipeline bill to alter the renewable fuel standard (RFS). 

Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., have attached an amendment that would eliminate corn ethanol from the RFS to the Keystone bill that is currently before the U.S. Senate.

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, released the following statement:

“The Feinstein/Toomey amendment is founded upon a false premise. The sponsors claim the so-called corn ethanol mandate drives up the price of corn, food, and gas. The fact of the matter is that corn is less expensive today than when the RFS was passed in 2007. There is simply no truth to the notion that ethanol has driven up the price of food. In fact, the UN concluded that food prices are driven more by the price of energy than the cost of commodities. To that point, ethanol has been less expensive than gas for the better part of the past four years and has helped reduce consumer pain at the pump.

“This amendment is an unnecessary solution to an imaginary problem. If approved, it would set our nation’s energy, economic, and climate agenda back decades.”

A statement from Tom Buis CEO of Growth Energy, said:  

“This legislation is incredibly shortsighted. Nearly identical legislation has been introduced in the past and has always failed to gain any traction since a majority of Senators understand the importance of homegrown American renewable fuels. This amendment would eviscerate the RFS - the most successful energy policy enacted in the last 40 years. It will continue to keep us addicted to foreign oil and more than anything, it seems like this legislation is appeasing the wishes of Big Oil and Big Food.

“Additionally, this legislation is based on false, misleading information. To blame ethanol for an increase in the price of food may make for good rhetoric, but it is completely devoid of any facts to back it up. Corn ethanol is not the cause of high prices; it is the price of oil. Even the World Bank  outlined how crude oil prices are responsible for over 50 percent of the increase in food prices since 2004. Countess studies have shown that oil prices, Wall Street speculators and the high costs of manufacturing, packaging and transportation are the true culprits driving up food prices.  Furthermore, 2014 yielded a record corn crop and the price of corn dropped precipitously throughout the harvest, even as food costs increased.

“The authors of this legislation fail to understand the actual process of how ethanol is produced," Buis said. "Only the starch is removed, while all of the valuable components – the fiber, oil and protein is returned to the food chain in the form of a high protein animal feed.

The statement went on to point to ethanol's environmental benefits and called it a "concession to the demands of Big Oil and Big Food."