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Industry Applauds Renewable Fuel Standard Reform

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An array of agriculture, business, environment, hunger, taxpayer and public interest groups hailed U.S. Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Steve Womack (R-Ark.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) for introducing the Renewable Fuel Standard Reform Act. Their response to Wednesday’s press conference held at the House Triangle, reiterated the devastating impact the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has had on the economy and consumers across the country and around the world.

If passed into law, the new bill would eliminate the corn-based ethanol mandate under the RFS, reduce the overall requirements of cellulosic ethanol not filled by advanced biofuels, and rescind the requirements to blend 15 percent of ethanol into the fuel supply.

Congress created the RFS Program in 2005 to mandate the minimum amount of renewable fuel—almost exclusively corn-based ethanol, which must be blended into motor fuels annually. In 2007, Congress increased the RFS significantly and added biodiesel, while permitting the Environmental Protection Agency to govern implementation of the congressional mandate.

With the introduction of RFS Reform Act, leaders of the affected groups expressed optimism:

• Kristin Sundell, senior policy analyst for ActionAid USA: “The Renewable Fuel Standard Reform Act will alleviate some of the pressure that U.S. biofuel mandates are putting on food prices and agricultural land around the world. We urgently need to rebalance our food and energy policies to make sure that people eat before cars.”

• Kraig R. Naasz, president and CEO of the American Frozen Food Institute: “Frozen food producers and their suppliers believe the RFS is unworkable and must be revisited by Congress. Our position is very simple: food should be used to fuel bodies not vehicle engines.”

• J. Patrick Boyle, president and CEO of the American Meat Institute (AMI): “It is clear that the Renewable Fuel Standard is a failed policy that has driven up the price of corn to record levels and put a strain on the entire meat and poultry production chain. For years, AMI has called for a renewable fuels policy that doesn’t pit energy against food production, and we appreciate the leadership of Representatives Goodlatte, Costa, Womack and Welch in introducing this crucial legislation.”

• Marlo Lewis, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute: “If ethanol is such a great deal, why do we need a law to make us buy it? Although ethanol is cheaper than gasoline by volume, ethanol has about one-third less energy than gasoline and does not make up the difference in price. Consequently, the higher the ethanol blend, the worse mileage your car gets, and the more you have to spend for fuel. For example, at today’s prices, the average motorist would have to spend an extra $400 to $650 a year to switch from gasoline to E85 (the highest commercial ethanol blend). Congress should stop forcing Americans to make a ‘fuel choice’ that increases our pain at the pump.”

• Scott Faber, VP of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group: “The RFS Reform Act makes much-needed room in the fuel pool for advanced alternatives that actually lower greenhouse gas emissions and do not compete with our food needs. In doing so, it helps ensure a cleaner energy future that benefits both consumers and the environment.”

• Erich Pica, president and tax analyst for Friends of the Earth: “It is simply unconscionable to mandate the use of corn ethanol when it pollutes the water we drink and creates more smog-forming pollution than gasoline. It is past time to reexamine our support of corn ethanol.” • Rob Vandenheuvel, GM of the Milk Producers Council: “On behalf of the dairy families represented by Milk Producers Council, we applaud the introduction of the RFS Reform Act. It’s time for Congress to reexamine the corn-based ethanol mandate and allow the market—not the government—to determine the best use of our valuable food supply. This bipartisan bill does exactly that, and we urge Congress to act quickly on this important issue.”

• Mike Brown, president of the National Chicken Council: “Chicken producers are certainly not anti-corn; and we’re not even anti-ethanol. What we are against is a government mandate that artificially inflates the price of corn, picks winners and punishes losers among those who depend on it. The Renewable Fuel Standard Reform Act seeks to level this playing field by embracing free-market principles.”

• Rob Green, executive director of the National Council of Chain Restaurants: “The National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR) applauds Chairman Goodlatte and Representatives Womack, Costa and Welch for introducing legislation to overhaul the RFS and for working to bring common, economic sense back to federal policy on ethanol and the RFS. A recent PwC study commissioned by NCCR found that the federal mandate on corn-based ethanol substantially raised prices and costs throughout the food supply chain and concluded that if the RFS mandate and ethanol requirements were left unchanged, it would increase chain restaurant industry costs by up to $3.2 billion a year. NCCR shares Chairman Goodlatte’s well-placed reservations about the Renewable Fuel Standard and supports efforts to repeal the RFS.”

• Thomas J. Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA): “NMMA opposes the introduction of E15 fuel into the marketplace and has serious concerns regarding its damaging effects on marine engines. We are committed to working together with the many, many other industries whose goods and services would be put in jeopardy without a serious reform of the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

• Scott DeFife, EVP of the National Restaurant Association: “Food costs are a top business challenge for the restaurant industry, which operates on razor-thin margins. The Renewable Fuel Standard Reform Act would benefit consumers, businesses and the overall economy by helping to lower those costs, and we applaud Congressmen Goodlatte, Costa, Womack and Welch for seeking needed reforms to the RFS.”

• Nan Swift, federal affairs manager for the National Taxpayers Union: “American consumers and taxpayers need a break from failed federal ethanol mandates that drive up fuel and food prices. The ‘Renewable Fuel Standard Reform Act’ would immediately open up the corn market, creating a level playing field and relieving the pressure on everyone from food producers to families.”

• Joel Brandenberger, president of the National Turkey Federation: “The RFS cost the turkey industry $1.9 billion in increased feed expenses last year. For this reason and more, the National Turkey Federation believes the introduction of the RFS Reform Act by Representatives Goodlatte, Costa, Womack and Welch is a strong step in the right direction. We appreciate our champions for standing up against this misguided ethanol policy that has caused severe economic harm to our industry and the country.”

• Barry Carpenter, CEO of the North American Meat Association: “Food prices are rising because of the drought and other natural causes, and continuing to mandate the use of corn for non-food purposes doesn’t make sense anymore. If we can find ways to alleviate the situation and at the same time maintain, and even improve, our reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, we should. The time to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard is now.”

• Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense: “We commend Representatives Goodlatte, Costa, Womack and Welch for taking long overdue steps toward reforming the broken Renewable Fuel Standard, which has primarily benefited the already heavily subsidized corn ethanol industry. It’s time to address this inflexible mandate that is currently causing consumers and taxpayers more harm than good.”

In addition to the aforementioned organizations, other groups supporting the RFS Reform Act include: California Dairy Campaign, California Poultry Federation, Chicken and Egg Association of Minnesota, Dairy Producers of New Mexico, Dairy Producers of Utah, Idaho Dairymen’s Association, Indiana State Poultry Association, Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, Nevada State Dairy Commission, North Carolina Poultry Federation, Northwest Dairy Association, Oregon Dairy Farmers Association, Southeast Milk Inc., Specialty Equipment Market Association, Texas Poultry Federation, The Poultry Federation, Virginia Poultry Federation and Washington State Dairy Federation.


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