Bob Haase’s Another Can of Worms

Time to End the Corn Ethanol Mandate

The Renewable Fuel Standard was created as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and it mandated that ethanol be blended into our gasoline. The intent was to lower our dependency on foreign oil and do it in a way that was environmentally friendly.  The Energy Independence and Security Act which was passed in 2007 required gasoline producers to blend 15 billion gallons of ethanol into our gasoline by 2015.  Most of the ethanol produced in the United States comes from corn which is not a good source for producing ethanol.

Some of the reasons for ending the corn ethanol mandate include:

1. It takes around a gallon of petroleum based fuel to create a gallon of ethanol.  By adding the ethanol to our gasoline it reduces our gas mileage by around 2 to 4 miles per gallon. These are averages with some studies claiming less, but most claiming even more.

2. Corn ethanol is a major contributor to rising food prices that affect everyone.  The price of corn has contributed to the rising cost of beef and poultry and even bread.   More corn is grown for ethanol than for food.  Studies done at Texas A&M University estimate that ethanol production has increased food cost in the United States by $40 billion a year.

3. The increased use of propane to dry the corn (400 million gallons in 2013 compared to 50 million gallons in 2012) has contributed to an ethanol shortage across most of the Midwest and eastern states with prices rising from $1.35 per gallon to $7.00 per gallon in some places. This can have a drastic affect on our economy because people that might purchase something else now have to spend it on propane.

4. Rather than creating a cleaner environment, ethanol production is contributing to a lot of environmental problems affecting our drinking water, dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, and many other problems.  Ethanol plants are allowed to pollute more than the amount allowed other industries and they have been fined for even exceeding that higher level.  Even the Environmental Protection Agency is concerned about the environmental problems of ethanol production and saying it is time to take another look at what it is doing environmentally.

5. Ethanol is damaging our engines, especially small engines. The seasonal blends that are required are also adding to the increased cost of gas, not reducing the cost.

6. We as taxpayers subsidize ethanol production at a cost of $.45 per gallon.  Ethanol producers say that they cannot produce ethanol and make a profit without government subsidies.

The best reason I found for eliminating the corn ethanol mandate is that scientific studies show that increasing our average gas mileage in our vehicles by 2 miles per gallon would be more beneficial cost wise and environmentally than what we could achieve if we increased ethanol production even more.  We could achieve that 2 miles per gallon average by just removing the ethanol from our gas. 

Ethanol production is more political based than it is science based and it is costing us billions of dollars every year.  Let’s get behind and support “The Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2013 by Senators Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Diane Feinstein of California.  

 Bob Haase is the host of “Outdoors Thursday” heard Thursday mornings at 9:10 a.m. on News-Talk 1450 KFIZ.