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Attacks on the RFS, No Matter How Well Funded, Don't Stand Up to Scrutiny

Published on 12 Mar 2014  |   Written by    |   Be the first to comment!

It’s been several months now since the EPA proposed to revise the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and reduce the amount of renewable biofuels in America’s fuel supply. This proposal is clearly flawed, but that hasn’t stopped entrenched fossil fuel interests from taking this opportunity to intensify their attacks on the RFS.

These well-funded attacks take several forms, but odds are you’ve run across them; the foreboding advertisements at a bus stop, or the slick website with a list of purported “facts” about biofuels. Almost every assault on biofuels and the RFS repeats the same dubious spin. If you’ve seen these ad campaigns, you’ll recognize these three arguments. Here’s why they’re wrong:

  • CLAIM: The Renewable Fuel Standard has turned millions of acres of land set aside for conservation into farmland.

    The idea that the Renewable Fuel Standard is responsible for turning pristine landscapes into over-farmed wastelands is oft-repeated. It is true that, since the current version of the RFS was signed into law, 5 million acres have been removed from the EPA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). However, this is because the maximum amount of acres allowed in the CRP program was reduced by 7 million in 2008.

  • CLAIM: The Renewable Fuel Standard pushes up food prices, exacerbating poverty and world hunger.


    In fact, corn prices don’t have a significant impact on food prices. According to the USDA, a 50% increase in corn prices historically amounts to a less than 1% increase in food prices. According to the World Bank, the rising price of oil is the most significant contributor to rising food prices.

    This is an important concept to understand, because if the cost of transportation fuel is the most likely culprit behind rising food costs, then the Renewable Fuel Standard actually helps to keep food prices low. Iowa State’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development found that the RFS reduces the average price of a gallon of gas by $1.09.

  • CLAIM: The Renewable Fuel Standard damages engines.

    This is another common refrain that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. The current RFS ensures that 10% of a gallon of gasoline is ethanol. All auto manufacturers have approved this blend for use in their engines.


What can’t be disputed is the fact that the RFS helps support more than 800,000 jobs. Or that thanks to the RFS, the U.S. currently gets more of its liquid transportation fuel supply from homegrown biofuels than from oil imported from Saudi Arabia. Despite all of the money that has been heaped into bludgeoning the RFS, nothing beats good, old-fashioned facts. And the facts show that the RFS is good for everyone.

Kyle McGuiness

Kyle McGuiness is a Communications Associate with ACORE.

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