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EPA Must Reform Bad Renewable Fuel Standard

By: Nicolás Gutierrez | Posted: June 16, 2014 3:55 AM
Nicolás Gutierrez

Nicolás Gutierrez

Even for those who use public transportation or the relative few who use electric vehicles, gasoline affects everything we do – from the price of food to the cost of goods that we purchase for our homes or businesses.

That’s why it’s so important for Floridians to care about the Renewable Fuel Standard, a federal mandate that requires 10 percent of transportation fuel to include renewable fuels, mostly ethanol which is made predominantly from corn. This standard is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to determine how much ethanol is required to be incorporated into fuel.

In 2007, when the standard was adopted, biofuels were supposed to lower greenhouse gases and become a major win for the environment. Instead, as an Associated Press investigation found last year, they have resulted in the loss of millions of acres of conservation land, destroyed habitat and polluted waterways from the boon of corn production.

There has also been an economic impact. While the corn industry has benefited extensively from this mandate, the heightened pressure on corn production to produce fuel has increased the cost of most everything else we rely upon. Corn is in a large majority of the food we consume, and much of the livestock we raise for food and dairy eats corn-based feed. So, as the demand for corn to be used for ethanol increases, so does the cost at the supermarket and our favorite restaurants.

Florida is particularly susceptible to corn price increases, as Sunshine State dairies produced 2.3 billion pounds of milk in 2012 and ranches are raising 1.7 million head of dairy and beef cattle, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Increased fuel prices, too, are shifted to the public. The more fuel costs based on supply and demand, the more it costs to deliver goods to businesses and consumers. As you can see, corn plays a major role in Florida’s economy.

As EPA ponders whether to keep the same, increase or decrease the amount of ethanol that should be produced for transportation gasoline, the agency should consider the economic impact on Americans and the relative low environmental benefit. More fuel-efficient vehicles, new technology and increased natural gas production are helping the environment while producing the energy we need to survive.

It’s time to back off this outdated policy that is bad for consumers, bad for small businesses and hinders our country’s growth. What we need is continued smart vehicle technology and continued expansion of energy sources that rein in our dependence on foreign oil.



Nicolás Gutierrez of Coral Gables is chair of the Florida Energy Forum, a citizens group interested in energy issues (www.flaenergyforum.com).


Comments (8)

Michael Scholl
1:10PM JUN 23RD 2014
I thought Mr. Gutierrez'z comments were suspect, so I looked around Florida Energy Forum's website. What it really is, after further examining the content of the organization’s site, is a front for oil and natural gas interests. His group is sponsored by the Americal Petroleum Institute!

The site examines issues such as Why Oil and Natural Gas, Oil & Gas 101 and Canadian Tar Sands. All of these are spun very positively, while paying lip service to renewable fuels.

Is his office at 806 S. Douglas Road, Suite 625, Coral Gables? If so, he is the Nicolás Gutierrez who was suspended for a year by the Florida Bar for ethics violations. This makes him, his organization and his commentary very suspect, in my mind.
Energy Fact Check
12:46PM JUN 17TH 2014
Actually, fuel costs are the chief contributor to rising food prices, according to the World Bank.

And research performed at Iowa State University shows that the Renewable Fuel Standard decreases the price of gasoline by an average of $1.09 per gallon.

Accusations that the RFS leads to higher food prices are off-base. You can learn more at Energy Fact Check.
Robert Ares
7:21AM JUN 16TH 2014
I still do not understand why Florida does not produce ethanol from the thousands of tons of Orange husks remaining after squeezing the juice oranges? I know some goes to cattle feed.
Michael
7:15AM JUN 16TH 2014
When I see any Republican Presidential hopeful including light in his mental loafers Rubio campaigning in Iowa and robustly calling for a reduction in the Renewable Fuel Standard then I might believe something is possible. Do not forget that Florida's Big Sugar is also all in on the ethanol so do not hold your breath.
Robert Ares
7:24AM JUN 16TH 2014
And, Florida Big Sugar... Fanjuls are Rubio's buddies.
C Breeze
6:47AM JUN 16TH 2014
This common sense issue is a simple one: DO NOT MAKE FUEL OUT OF FOOD CROPS ! ( Whoever thought that nonsense up to begin with, had to have been a money-grabbing lawyer or a political Lobby GROUP of lawyers).
Phil Turchen
2:33PM JUN 16TH 2014
Ethanol is not made from consumable corn!
Michael
4:43PM JUN 16TH 2014
No but the economic incdentive means that the farmer does not grow consumable corn. Actually let us remove all pretense, Big Ag benefits from the ethanol subsidy, Con Agra, Fanjul's, etc. Thus the Congressmen and Senators that serve their interests will not change the current conditions.
Indeed , I watched the House and Senate hearings on this very issue and the Senators and Congressmen that serve Big Ag very much wanted to increase the ethanol requirement to 15% and more. What a disaster that would be. The Obama EPA thankfully rolled back that requirement.

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