Americans show strong support for renewable fuels agenda

By Renewable Fuels Association | April 17, 2012

Washington – By an overwhelming majority, American voters are supportive of the key federal policy driving renewable fuel innovation in America today – the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  In a poll commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and conducted by American Viewpoint, 61 percent of adults polled said they supported the RFS. 

“Poll after poll consistently demonstrates that Americans of all stripes believe we must be pursuing the production and use of renewable fuels to reduce our dependence on imported oil,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen.  “The RFS is a critical component to the continued growth and innovation of this industry.  The RFS ensures that ample supplies of renewable fuels like ethanol are available today and that new and promising renewable fuel technologies will have a market in the future.  The RFS has proven effective in addressing America’s goals by helping reduce volumes of imported oil, create jobs, and lower greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuel.”

Americans also showed a strong desire to increase their use of domestic ethanol.  When asked how likely they would be to purchase a fuel with more domestic ethanol when available (specifically E15), 58 percent of respondents said they were very likely or somewhat likely. 

Participants in the poll responded very favorably to the continued efforts to bring cellulosic ethanol production to commercial scale through the use of targeted tax policies.  Sixty-five percent said they supported such incentives to help expand cellulosic ethanol production.  By comparison, 69 percent said they opposed tax subsidies and other incentives for petroleum companies. 

Finally, respondents expressed strong support for greater choice when pulling up to the pump.  Seventy-five percent of those polled said they would support requiring automakers to build cars to run on fuel sources other than oil.  The RFA has been a strong and early champion of the Open Fuel Standard that would accomplish this exact goal. 

“An overwhelming wave of support for developing an energy policy that looks beyond just fossil fuels is growing in America as we careen to record high gasoline prices this summer,” said Dinneen. “By protecting the RFS, supporting the breakthrough of advanced and cellulosic ethanol production, and expanding renewable fuel options through greater ethanol blends like E15 at the pump, Congress can respond to the will of the American people and begin creating a more secure and stable energy future.”

The poll was commissioned by RFA and conducted by American Viewpoint.  The poll was conducted via telephone March 27 to March 29 with a sample size of 1,000.  Margin of error in the poll is plus or minus 3.1 percent.  Approximately 15 percent of respondents were contacted by cell phone. 

The poll results come in advance of the RFA’s inaugural Washington Legislative Forum being held tomorrow, April 18, at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.  The event is invitation only and closed to media.  Attendees will hear from congressional and administration officials about legislative priorities outlined in the poll and the chances for any legislative action regarding these priorities in 2012.  Following the meeting, RFA members will take to Capitol Hill to meet with dozens of lawmakers on issues important to America’s renewable fuel industry.

The following are the exact questions posed to poll participants and their responses.

As you may know, there is currently a renewable fuels standard that requires a certain amount of the fuel produced each year to come from ethanol, biodiesel and other renewable sources that aren't fossil fuels in order to reduce foreign oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions.  Do you favor or oppose this requirement?

Favor:  61 percent
Oppose: 27 percent
Don’t Know: 12 percent

As you may know, much of today’s gasoline that you purchase is blended with 10 percent ethanol, known as E10. The government recently tested and has approved selling fuel for all car models year 2001 and newer gasoline that is blended with up to 15 percent of ethanol, known as E15. How likely are you to purchase a fuel that includes more domestic ethanol when it is available?

Likely:  58 percent
Not Likely: 33 percent
Don’t Know: 5 percent

Some have considered the government giving incentives to help fund the expansion of a new technology known as cellulosic ethanol, which is a biofuel produced from wood, grasses and other non-edible parts of plants. Do you favor or oppose these incentives?

Favor:  65 percent
Oppose: 23 percent
Don’t Know: 10 percent

As you may know, oil companies received up to $280 billion in government subsidies and special tax treatment and incentives for things like equipment depreciation, oil depletion allowances, and foreign investment tax credits for taxes they pay in foreign countries. Do you favor or oppose these tax incentives?

Favor:  19 percent
Oppose: 69 percent
Don’t know: 11 percent

Do you favor or oppose requiring automobile manufacturers to build cars that will run on fuel sources other than oil, such as electricity, natural gas and biofuels?

Favor:  75 percent
Oppose: 20 percent
Don’t Know: 5 percent