Center for Strategic Communication

This month, the EPA will consider a petition to grant a “waiver” on America’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The RFS, established as a part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, requires minimum volume of biofuels to be blended into the national transportation fuel supply. The requirement was then expanded under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Several state Governors and livestock industry leaders have petitioned the EPA to waive this requirement with a decision from the EPA expected later this month. The groups supporting the waiver contend that the inflexible mandate has diverted significant portions of America’s corn crop to biofuels, putting pressure on corn prices, thus raising the cost of feed and driving some major livestock producers to bankruptcy. These groups say that, especially in times of drought, the RFS is making already scarce corn an even more valuable commodity and that livestock farmers are passing the increased cost of feed onto the American consumer

Groups opposing the waiver, such as the ethanol industry, the corn growers, and several biofuel industry leaders and farm state governors, cite studies which say the waiver would only modestly lower corn prices. Instead, waiving the RFS would shrink jobs in an emerging industry, curb incentives for innovation, and exacerbate America’s dependence on fossil fuels.

The RFS has been vital to fostering the future of America’s energy supply. Currently,  400,000 jobs rely on the RFS as well as the benefits of lowered fuel costs, and increased value of agricultural assets. Opponents of the waiver have advocated for rejecting the waiver, noting that analysis shows that the waiver would not lower food prices enough to offset increased fuel costs, thus causing more harm than good.

Additionally, this waiver could have devastating effects on the advanced and cellulosic biofuel industry. The waiver request, while spurred by concerns over corn prices, would also decrease the required consumption of these non-traditional biofuel alternatives. Advanced biofuels are our nation’s future and need fostering before growing into larger, self-sustained industries.

Any decision on a waiver of the RFS should be made based on sound science and actual market conditions, not political pressure.  The benefits of the standard for the American economy energy security are too great to be waived for no good reason.

Check out ASP’s work on biofuels by clicking here.