Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Renewable Fuel Standard

I just saw this topic in a commercial on my local news channel, a CBS affiliate.  I heard it on WJR radio on the way to Cleveland, too.  The commercial is full of falsehoods like E-15 will damage your engine, the standard will make food prices go up and blah, blah blah.  It mentions the support of AAA and I am a member.  I don't like that reference.

What's the truth?  "Oil companies don’t like biofuels very much. The reason why is pretty clear. Right now, 10 percent of what would have been gasoline sales is now being diverted to biofuels, primarily ethanol. Oilmen particularly don’t like the renewable fuel standard (RFS), which legally requires that gasoline producers include a minimum percentage of ethanol in every gallon sold, an amount that could grow to 15 percent in the near future, and eventually might go as high as 30 percent. By 2022, that means that 36 billion gallons will come from bio-based sources, though a maximum of 15 billion gallons can come from corn, a move intended to limit interference with the food supply.

That is why, both the American Petroleum Institute and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers group are pushing hard for a complete repeal of the RFS.

Two oil companies, BP and Shell, however, have broken ranks with these trade groups, saying that they, “generally support” the legislation. Those are the words of John Reese, Shell’s downstream policy and advocacy manager. He does feel that the mandate could use some revision. Likewise, according to spokesman Matt Hartwig, “BP supports the goals of the RFS program to stimulate the development and deployment of biofuels technologies. There are challenges with the standard that must be addressed, and we continue to work with regulatory agencies to address these issues."

As a corn grower, I haven't seen ethanol damage an engine or make my food bill go up.  Fuel costs and other inputs drive the price of food, not ethanol.  You stand on one side of the issue or the other or you just don't care.  I care.  I support the idea of burning corn ethanol.  I burn lots of it.  I like the jobs it creates and the lack of dependence on foreign oil.  Still, we are now a major export of gasoline because of the fracking industry.

I admit farming was more stable at $2 corn but it made sense to distill a crop we can grow so much of.

You either agree or you don't or you just don't care.

Ed Winkle


  1. Hi Ed , hope you are enjoying the warmer and sunnier ( is that a word?)weather .....one of my sons works for Dutch Shell and he is actually more supportive of alternate fuels and environment than many of my farming buddies and livestock producers . Be it solar,bio fuels,wind,ect no energy is "free" and it all has an environmental impact. Just out of curiosity if the price of corn had stayed at $2.50 and we still had ethanol on the scale it is would farmers still be as supportive? The time will come when we decide on either corn alcohol or meats as we can't push meat prices much higher and still sell it-regards-kevin in Ontario

  2. Chevron is into solar too, so they say, but BP gave up some time ago.
    Not really a renewable fuel though, unless you use solar to electrolyze water and produce hydrogen to burn in either combustion engines or fuel cells. In both cases, the output is water, pretty cool.

    Ethanol from corn is an economical and environmental aberration anyway. I hope they'll find a better fuel, or push natural gas as an alternative to diesel. Should be easy to get all trucks and buses converted. Or they could make butanol instead of ethanol from something that is not an edible crop and does not threaten our food supply: