The Renewable Fuel Standard Is a Proven Success

By: Bob Dinneen | Posted: June 21, 2014 3:55 AM
Bob Dinneen

Bob Dinneen

Nicolás Gutierrez’s call for an environmentally-friendly solution to America’s reliance on foreign oil is easily answered by the very policy he rails against (“EPA Must Reform Bad Renewable Fuel Standard,” June 16).

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has helped lower our nation’s reliance on foreign petroleum to 35 percent since reaching a high of 60 percent in 2005. Ethanol production has reduced finished gasoline imports from 600,000 barrels per day in 2005 to near zero today.

Numerous peer-reviewed analyses show that conventional ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent to 40 percent compared to gasoline. This has been realized over the past nine years without the conversion of a single acre of new grassland to cropland. Recent increases in corn acres have been achieved through crop switching, not through cultivation of new, nonagricultural lands. The environmental investigation conducted by the Associated Press has since been discredited for relying on muddled data that were attained through flawed methodology.

Contrary to Gutierrez’s assertions, the RFS does not noticeably affect consumer food prices. Food prices increased just 2.1 percent in 2013, lower than the 25-year average of 2.92 percent (1988–2012). Corn is only a minor ingredient in consumer grocery items. When consumers spend $1 on food at the grocery store, only 12 cents pays for the value of the farm products themselves while the other 88 cents pays for processing, energy, transportation, labor, packaging, advertising and other costs.

Oil, however, has been proven to have a substantial effect. Last year, the World Bank found that “most of the contribution to food price changes from 1997-2004 to 2005-12 comes from the price of crude oil …” In addition, the RFS contributes to the livestock feed sector through the generation of distillers' grains. More than 35 million metric tons of this highly nutritious feed was generated in the 2012–13 marketing year, with 37.8 million expected in 2013–14. That is enough feed to produce six hamburger patties for every one of Earth’s 7.2 billion residents.

Indeed, the EPA must consider the economic benefits of the ethanol industry. The industry directly supports more than 86,000 well-paid jobs as well as 300,000 indirect and induced jobs. Last year, the industry added $44 billion to the nation’s GDP, raised $30.7 billion in household income, and displaced 462 million barrels of imported oil -- equal to the total amount of crude oil imported from Iraq and Venezuela.

The RFS is a proven success.

Bob Dinneen is president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), the leading trade association for America’s ethanol industry.

Tags: News, Columns

Comments (7)

Algenol Biofuels
1:22PM JUN 25TH 2014
Algenol Biofuels’ patented technology enables the production of the four most important fuels (ethanol, gasoline, jet, and diesel fuel) for around $1.27 per gallon each by using proprietary algae, sunlight, carbon dioxide and saltwater at production levels of approximately 8,000 total gallons of liquid fuel per acre per year. A yield that far exceeds the approximately 420 gallons of ethanol, per acre/per year produced by corn. Algenol’s novel, low-cost techniques have the added benefit of consuming carbon dioxide from industrial sources, not using farmland or food crops and being able to provide freshwater. As a result, the fertile farmland currently used to grow corn for fuel can be used to grow food, instead.

You can learn more about Algenol Biofuels at our website.
Michael Scholl
2:05PM JUN 23RD 2014
Ah, now I see on the bottom of the contact page that his organization is sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute. It all makes sense...
Michael Scholl
1:55PM JUN 23RD 2014
Sorry, Mike. I meant to mention Sandra Wiatrowski's name in my post. My bad!
Michael Scholl
1:49PM JUN 23RD 2014
Interesting that Mike and Patrick should point out that Bob Dinneen has an obvious connection to the ethanol industry. What is not so obvious, however, is that Nicolás Gutierrez, who wrote the original opinion piece to which Dinneen responded, is chairman of the Florida Energy Forum, which purports to be a citizens group interested in energy issues. What it really is, after further examining the content of the organization’s site, is a front for oil and natural gas interests. It 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.

Further, Mr. Gutierrez may or may not be the Nicolas Gutierrez who was suspended by the Florida Bar Association for ethics violations. If so, it should be no surprise that the site is deceptive and the article is filled with so many factual errors.

I work in the biofuels industry, and on reading his editorial, his remarks were suspect, which is why I delved deeper into both his content and his character. Neither, in my estimation, stand up to scrutiny.
Mike Patrick
12:43PM JUN 23RD 2014
Yes Bob Dineen has an interest in ethanol. However the FACTS he presents have no interest as they're facts, not opinions or beliefs. Also Bob's funding is transparent, how about Guterriez's? Who is paying his check?

The price of corn has fallen essentially in half since the drought 2 years ago and what has a box of corn flakes (THE most direct use of dent corn for food there is) done since then? The price is higher and the box is smaller. I don't believe that Kellogg's shared their good fortune of declining raw material prices with anyone other than Kellogg's.
Suka Madek
9:36AM JUN 22ND 2014
Ethanol only works when it is forced on us by the government it would not last one day on its own
Sandra Wiatrowski
10:26AM JUN 21ST 2014
It should be obvious to the reader that the writer of this piece has an undeniable interest in arguing in favor of ethanol.

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