Ending a relationship is never easy, even one with a proven history of broken promises, twisted logic, weak justifications and financial exploitation. Such is the bond between the American taxpayer and the domestic ethanol industry. In the beginning, statements of common goals sparked hopeful enthusiasm. Many eagerly supported the romantic notion of growing our way to energy independence and an American-led green-based movement towards world prosperity. But, alas, the thrill is gone, and the truth exposed. The once proud, almost pompous, biofuels sector is struggling for justification.
The affair began in 2007 with the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA). Contained within the act is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) provisions that sets forth incentives for the development of biofuels such as plant-based ethanol and biodiesel. At the time, Bush had committed to the goal of ending American’s addiction to fossil fuel. The original promise was a reduced dependency on Middle Eastern oil, cleaner air, a boon to agriculture and reduced fuel costs for consumers.
Unfortunately, ethanol has failed to live up to its promised benefits. Recent low prices at the pump have exposed its life-support dependency on the government. Although direct subsidies have expired, ethanol producers continue to benefit from other financial incentives and federal mandates. A study by the NARC Consulting Group calls the program an economic death-spiral and discloses its many flaws. Yet, industry groups rally for maintaining, even increasing, RFS percentages in the face of mounting evidence of the program’s failure. Still, in a recent rule change proposal, the EPA published a plan to amend the mandates.
The statutory requirement to blend government-supported biofuels with free-market fuels is market manipulation. If the value of ethanol and other biofuels were legitimate, forced consumption, through the RFS, would not be necessary. Congress should end this failed relationship and costly experiment. Let the free market drive innovation and job development. Below, are but a few of the adverse effects of the RFS:
- disruptive to agriculture markets
- increases food costs
- rife with fraud
- lacks self-sustainability
- burdens Taxpayers
- environmental damage
- violates free-market principles