Majority of Americans Support the RFS

A recent poll of 1,000 Americans shows 65 percent support the renewable fuel standard, writes Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. And, 78 percent favor requiring auto makers to build cars that run alternative fuels.
By Bob Dinneen | May 19, 2014

The American people have spoken. New polling numbers show overwhelming support for the renewable fuel standard (RFS).

The RFS garnered the support of 65 percent of Americans in a recent poll conducted March 16-18 by American Viewpoint. One thousand people were polled by phone on a variety of energy related issues, including the RFS, higher-level ethanol blends, next-generation biofuels and Big Oil tax subsidies.
Trends show that support for the RFS has been rising over the past several years. In 2012, 61 percent of Americans supported it. That number rose to 64 percent last year and continues to rise.

The following are questions and answers from the poll. 

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 to reduce foreign oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions. Do you favor or oppose this requirement?

Favor: 65 percent
Oppose: 26 percent
Don’t know: 8 percent

But resounding support of the RFS isn’t the only result worth looking at. Cellulosic ethanol, the next-wave ethanol production, garnered support from 66 percent of those polled. Cellulosic ethanol is coming on the scene in a big way as Ineos Bio began producing at a commercial level last year and at least four more plants are slated to begin production this year.

The government has considered giving incentives to help fund the expansion of a new fuel known as cellulosic ethanol, which is a biofuel produced from wood, grasses and other nonedible parts of plants. Do you favor or oppose these incentives?

Favor: 66 percent
Oppose: 24 percent
Don’t know: 9 percent

Additionally, Americans show an active dislike and opposition toward tax breaks and incentives given to Big Oil. That industry holds a death grip on the fuel market and it’s appalling that they continue to receive billions of dollars’ worth of tax incentives from hard-working American taxpayers. Two-thirds of Americans oppose tax incentives for Big Oil. It is time to eliminate these 100-year-old tax subsidies to the petroleum industry once and for all.

As you may know, oil companies receive $4 billion to $5 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: 22 percent
Oppose: 66 percent
Don’t know: 11 percent

And speaking of vehicles, 78 percent of Americans support the development of vehicles that run on alternative fuels other than oil. Roughly one out of every four vehicles sold today is a flex-fuel vehicle, capable of running on E85. Additionally, more than half of all vehicles produced this year by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler will be flex-fuel vehicles. The support for alternatives to oil is overwhelming and we will continue to push for the production of flex-fuel vehicles and maintain our long-time support for the Open Fuel Standard. 

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: 78 percent
Oppose: 19 percent
Don’t know: 3 percent

It’s clear that the American people support the RFS and next-generation cellulosic ethanol. And yet, the RFS is facing opposition on all ends. It’s time policymakers give Americans what they want and need, stable and continued support of the RFS. It’s time our lawmakers start listening to the American people.

Author: Bob Dinneen
President and CEO,
Renewable Fuels Association
202-289-3835