The federal government and the mainstream media missed a huge opportunity last weekend by ignoring the tenth anniversary of the Renewable Fuels Standard, which has proven to be one of the most successful government energy initiatives ever.
"It is very curious that some vocal audiences known for touting job creation, a stronger domestic economy, and reduced air and water pollution were largely mute on this significant occasion," said Chip Bowling, NCGA president and a farmer from Maryland. "It is pretty hard to miss the irony of this anniversary-related RFS assessment hitting while the Environmental Protection Agency is weakening the successful legislation."
The performance of the RFS has been nothing short of spectacular. It has changed the national energy landscape. Last year alone, the 13.4 billion gallons of ethanol we blended with gasoline reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 38 million metric tons. That's equivalent to taking 8 million cars off our roads.
An analysis prepared by the Renewable Fuels Association shows that, over the last 10 years, the Renewable Fuel Standard fulfilled its primary goal, which was to decrease our reliance on foreign sources of energy and rely more heavily on an "all of the above" approach to domestic, renewable sources. Additionally, consumers have benefited from more choices at the pump and lower gas prices.
Communities across the country have benefited from the job creation, increased tax revenue, and higher household incomes related to biorefinery construction and operation. It is estimated the 200 biorefineries in operation today generate $53 billion in economic activity.
"Oil imports from OPEC have been cut in half," Bowling said. "In rural America the RFS has been nothing short of remarkable. Overall crop size has grown by 3 billion bushels of corn and total U.S. cropland has not increased. The RFS proves the right policy can truly stimulate the economy and keep those dollars in our country."
Under the RFS, annual ethanol and coproduct production (such as distillers grains) has more than tripled and jobs in the industry have doubled. Livestock value has increased by nearly 60 percent and red meat and poultry production is up nearly 10 percent.
The new study points out very clearly that by making ethanol from corn, we can have both food and fuel. Current U.S. food inflation rates have increased and world food prices have advanced at an annual rate of 2 percent, in line with, or lower than, long-term historical trends.