RFS Reform Act earns praise from OPEI

April 11, 2013 -  By

The engine products industry welcomed news that a bipartisan group of legislators–Bob Goodlatte, R-VA; Jim Costa, D-CA; Peter Welch, D-VT and Steve Womack, R-AR–introduced April 10 the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Reform Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“We welcome this legislation and are pleased that members of Congress are addressing this critical challenge for the engine products industry,” said Kris Kiser, Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) president and CEO.

The bill calls for the elimination of corn-based ethanol requirements and a 10 percent cap on the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline. It also would require the United Sates Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set cellulosic biofuels levels at production levels.

“The OPEI strongly supports efforts to hit the pause button on E15 entering the marketplace,” Kiser said. “It’s clear that reform of the RFS program is needed since the underlying assumptions used to develop the RFS have not been met: E85 use is not expanding, gasoline consumption peaked in 2007 and continues to fall, and advanced and cellulosic fuels (non corn ethanol) are not available.”

A statement issued by the legislators said the RFS mandates that 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels be part of the nation’s fuel supply by 2022 and almost all of this is currently being fulfilled by corn ethanol. In 2011, five billion bushels of the corn supply was used for ethanol–equal to nearly 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop. While the RFS is causing food prices to go up, the RFS has not provided relief for consumers at the pump.

“Renewable fuels play an important role in our energy policy but should compete fairly in the marketplace,” said the Congressmen in a statement. “This legislation will bring the fundamental reform this unworkable federal policy needs now.”

In fact, the EPA is setting the target for refiners to blend cellulosic biofuels into gasoline higher than the amount of cellulosic biofuels that exists, the Congressmen said citing the RFS. When these non-existent fuels cannot be blended refiners are financially penalized, which ultimately gets passed on to consumers at the pump.

“Consumers are growing increasingly wary of ethanol related issues and evidence in the marketplace that shows product damage and engine failure,” Kiser said “Adding to the confusion is the fact that 15 percent ethanol is dangerous–and is in fact illegal–to use in any non-road engine equipment, such as boats, utility vehicles, chain saws, snow throwers, generators, mowers, motorcycles, snowmobiles, power washers, lawn tractors, trimmers, edgers, pruners, chippers, shredders and blowers and other small engine uses, such as in irrigation, well systems and pumps, for example. This legislation will go a long way to protect the 150 million Americans using 400 million pieces of engine equipment for which E15 is not a legal fuel.”

The Congressmen believe that the RFS debate is about more than fuel or food; it’s also about jobs, small business, and economic growth. “The federal government’s creation of an artificial market for the ethanol industry has quite frankly triggered a domino effect that is hurting American consumers, energy producers, livestock producers, food manufacturers and retailers,” they said. “The broad coalition of organizations supporting this legislation echo the same sentiment: the RFS is not working.

In addition to the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, they said more than 40 organizations support the RFS Reform Act including the American Frozen Food Institute, the American Meat Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Environmental Working Group, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Milk Producers Council, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Chicken Council, the National Council of Chain Restaurants, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the National Restaurant Association, the National Taxpayers Union, the National Turkey Federation and Taxpayers for Commonsense.

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