Celebrating a decade of success under the RFS

Even as the ethanol industry celebrates 10 years since the RFS was made law, the U.S. EPA is deliberating its fate, writes Tom Buis of Growth Energy. This column appears in the August issue of EPM.
By Tom Buis | July 20, 2015

Ten years ago, the renewable fuel standard (RFS) was passed by a bipartisan Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush. This month, we are not only commemorating the creation of our nation’s most successful energy policy in the past 40 years. We are also celebrating a decade of job creation, clean air, innovation, and increased energy independence and consumer choice.

But even as we are celebrating these victories, the U.S. EPA is deliberating the fate of the RFS. In its latest RFS proposal for 2014-’16, EPA unfortunately chose to side with the obligated parties who have deliberately refused to live up to their obligation to provide consumers with a lower-cost, higher-performing, homegrown, renewable fuel option at the pump.

Everyone in Congress, as well as all parties in the renewable fuels and oil industries, knew when this legislation was debated and passed into law that the ambitious goals of the RFS could only be met by introducing higher blends into the market. Now those obligated parties, controlled primarily by Big Oil, are being rewarded for their refusal to live up to their obligation.

EPA should instead reward the hardworking men and women who embraced this promise and built ethanol plants, communities and families in towns across rural America. The RFS has been a clear success. Today, because of the RFS, there are more than 200 ethanol biorefineries across the country and dozens of projects that will make advanced or cellulosic biofuels. The renewable fuels industry supports nearly 400,000 good American jobs that will never be outsourced.

The RFS is the only policy to ever have loosened the oil industry’s stranglehold on the liquid fuels marketplace and the only policy that will help us kick our dangerous addiction to foreign oil. Since the enactment of the RFS in 2005, our dependence on foreign oil has been cut by more than half, from 60 percent to 27 percent. And, instead of sending nearly a billion dollars a day overseas, we are investing right here at home. At the same time, the RFS enables competition that benefits us all and gives consumers the sorely needed ability to choose a fuel that meets their price and performance needs.
By using increasing amounts of biofuels under the RFS, greenhouse gas emissions will ultimately be reduced by 138 million metric tons—the equivalent of taking 27 million cars off the road. In 2014 alone, the 13.4 billion gallons of ethanol blended into gasoline in the United States helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 38 million metric tons, which is the equivalent of removing roughly 8 million cars from the road.

EPA’s proposal would jeopardize our ability to realize all of these important goals contained in the RFS. I hope EPA was listening when hundreds of ethanol supporters from across the country made their way to Kansas City to personally testify about the importance of renewable fuels in their lives. I hope EPA was watching when Iowa’s Gov. Terry Branstad ignited the Rally for Rural America with the cry, “Don’t mess with the RFS!” And most of all, I hope EPA carefully read the thousands upon thousands of detailed comments submitted by supporters of our industry.

Just as we successfully commented on the original 2014 RVO proposal by EPA, which ultimately forced EPA to reconsider its initial flawed rule, we are confident that our comments will highlight the changes that are necessary to meet the goals of the RFS. Our message is clear—EPA should uphold the original intent of the RFS passed by Congress and provide our industry with the certainty we need to continue to succeed.


Author: Tom Buis
CEO, Growth Energy