A View from the Hill

Spring Training is Over
By Bob Dineen | April 01, 2006
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Hot dogs! Get your hot dogs! Peanuts! Play ball!

It's the start of a new baseball season. That's good news, particularly for White Sox fans. Unfortunately, it also means the annual rise in gasoline prices will soon follow. We all know the drill. As the number of visitors to theme parks, ball parks and vacation destinations rises, so too will the numbers at the corner filling station.

This year, ethanol naysayers will be quick to point the finger at ethanol for causing these price spikes. They will cite a recent report from the Energy Information Administration saying the elimination of MTBE will cause ethanol supply shortages that will drive gasoline prices up. They will argue the requirements of the renewable fuels standard (RFS) are to blame.

These arguments are akin to the Chicago Cubs changing uniforms in hopes it will break the curse; it's a different cover on the same story.

Let's be clear. It is the gasoline refiners that have chosen to eliminate MTBE so rapidly, especially in markets where no mandate exists to do so. The ethanol industry had no say in the matter. We are doing everything we can to mitigate the impact MTBE hemorrhaging the market may have on consumers. With more than 2 billion gallons of annual production capacity rapidly coming on line, any impacts will be short-lived.

Clearly, those arguing that the RFS itself is the problem have struck out. The fact is the RFS requirements for 2006 will be an afterthought. America consumed more than 4 billion gallons of ethanol last year. U.S. ethanol use will far outpace the 4 billion gallons called for under the RFS this year.

We have been through this drill before. We know how to respond. It was this time last year that the Consumer Federation of America released an analysis saying drivers would save 8 cents a gallon on average if the nation's gasoline was blended with 10 percent ethanol. We all witnessed the economic benefit ethanol-blended fuel provided last summer when gasoline prices soared to record levels.

As you head out to that first baseball game of the year, go ahead and fill 'er up on ethanol. And save a seat for me. Go Red Sox!

Bob Dinneen
President and CEO
Renewable Fuels Association