By Robert L. Bradley Jr, 23 July 2015
In her book “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand draws a sharp distinction between business people who risk their own money to produce goods and services and those who manipulate the machinery of government to expropriate the wealth earned by others. The former are the creators, the latter looters.
The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) belongs to the looters. Enacted by Congress in 2005 and revised in 2007, the RFS is a heavy-handed, Big Brother-style program that takes wealth from oil refiners and the American public to support the ethanol industry.
By demanding the blending of larger amounts of ethanol and biofuels into the nation’s gasoline and diesel each year, the RFS has created an artificial market for renewable fuels. The mandate is not based on the fuels’ efficiency or value, but rather on some mystical ability to appease our societal guilt for burning fossil fuels and to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
Biofuels are not worth the consumer costs and taxpayer subsidies. Corn ethanol turns food into fuel and raises food prices. Ethanol also has a propensity to attract water, leading it to corrode vital engine components. And it contains less energy (Btus) than gasoline, providing fewer miles to the gallon and forcing motorists to fill up more often.
Corn ethanol also harms the environment. According to the Environmental Working Group, farmers have converted millions of acres of wetlands and grasslands into cornfields, releasing millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
RFS’s new-fuel pipe-dream is cellulosic ethanol, produced from switch grass, wood chips and other fibrous plant waste. Although it was touted as the answer to America’s thirst for oil, not enough cellulosic ethanol has been made to meet the government mandate. As the National Academy of Sciences reports, making this fuel is far more complicated and expensive than imagined. In fact, the NAS says cellulosic ethanol might never be commercially viable.
Despite all of that, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continues to order refiners to add ethanol to the nation’s gasoline supplies. The EPA has even levied huge fines against refineries for failing to use cellulosic ethanol, even though the EPA’s own data showed it did not exist.
In the EPA’s Orwellian world, we apparently are supposed to pretend the failed biofuels programs are working and play along, even though the ethanol volumes to be blended into gasoline in 2015 and 2016 could exceed the safe 10 percent limit. Vehicle manufacturers say fuel blends containing up to 10 percent ethanol (E10) can be tolerated by their engines. But manufacturers of some marine and small engines haveissued harsh warnings against E10 and particularly E15, which contains up to 15 percent ethanol.
Who pays for the expensive repairs caused by this misguided government program? Consumers, who are forced to buy ethanol-laced fuel, although many prefer straight gasoline. Government data indicate that straight gasoline sales are rising. In 2014, sales of un-doctored fuel climbed to nearly 7 percent of total gasoline demand, up from 3.4 percent in 2012.
The EPA, which puts its failed biofuels policy before people, is oblivious to consumer choice. Wearing its rose-colored blinders, the agency is goose-stepping toward a future where engines fail and broken-down cars line the roadsides. Congress should make this legalized looting illegal by repealing the RFS.
Extracted in full from the Washington Examiner.