Dr. Boozman's Check-up

Repeal the RFS

Jun 24 2013

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has run out of gas. 

Created in 2005, and expanded in 2007, the program requires refiners to blend increasing volumes of biofuels—like corn ethanol—into the nation’s fuel.

The use of corn-based ethanol does more harm than good.  Corn-based ethanol reduces access to affordable food and causes large tracts of farm land to be converted to ethanol production.  It makes it more difficult to feed poultry and livestock, and increases the price of other foods.  Although tail-pipe emissions are reduced, the use of corn-based ethanol ultimately increases overall emissions.  Also, increasing ethanol use will cause major damage to small engines.  These engines are common in motorcycles, farm and lawn equipment, and many other common machines.

While we certainly want to promote renewable fuels that don’t compete with food, the RFS mandate manipulates the corn marketplace, a commodity that can easily stand on its own, and in turn increases food costs. This has become particularly apparent after the drought conditions much of the country has faced in recent growing seasons. Not only does it drive up prices of food produced with these grains, but it also raises the prices of feed for poultry and cattle, which is in turn passed on to consumers. 

Agriculture is our state’s top industry. Poultry and cattle—sectors particularly vulnerable to the drought-related spike in grain costs—represent nearly half of Arkansas’s farm marketing receipts. The RFS is makes it harder for our ranchers to operate and more expensive for all of us to put food on the table.

Last year, a number of states, including Arkansas, petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a waiver in light of the shortage of grain created by recent droughts. The EPA denied every single petition.

Since the EPA is unwilling to work with states to address this crisis, it is incumbent on Congress to take action. That is why I have joined with my colleagues to introduce The Renewable Fuel Standard Fuel Repeal Act (S.1195) which would repeal this harmful program in its entirety. As a cosponsor of this bill, I will be working hard with my colleagues to get it through Congress and put pressure on the White House to act. 

It’s time to leave this program on the side of the road.