Oops. In 2008, our gasoline consumption started trending down for the first time. Had the RFS specified a percentage to total gasoline use, we probably wouldn’t be in the present bind. But who knew that our thirst for gas would decrease?
So now, in order to ensure that oil refiners buy up the gallons of ethanol from farm states as required by law, our declining gasoline usage requires a greater percentage of ethanol (like 15 percent, or more) be added to gasoline.
This year, the RFS has nearly 40 percent of our total corn crop going into fuel, an amount set to keep increasing.
Since we have now met all the oil-independence goals originally set when the RFS was established, why have we kept such a problematic law? “To please a well-organized farm lobby, which collects most of the money consumers are forced to waste,” says USA Today in an editorial (August 18, 2013).
The same editorial adds that it’s time for Congress to “repeal the law entirely. There are no awards for bad laws. Only negative consequences.”
Attempts at repealing this bad law have failed in previous years, thanks largely to the power of corn growers. The EPA is unlikely to grant a further waiver for 2014, and is expected to require an E15 blend for 2014. Displeasure with this law is widespread in many quarters (including not only nearly all facets of boating and fishing industries, but environmentalists, automakers, oil refiners and other groups).
For our part, we can support the National Marine Manufacturers Association's current campaign to change the ethanol mandate by taking about 60 seconds to make our voices heard to end the madness.
Let’s hope such efforts finally have the traction needed for such a repeal. I’d hate to see launch ramps become obsolete.