Ethanol Mandate: ‘Little More Than Soviet-style Production Quota’

Barbara Hollingsworth | November 22, 2013 | 5:38pm EST
Font Size


Ethanol plant in Missouri (AP photo)

( – The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision last week to reduce the amount of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply for the first time is a welcome acknowledgment that the regulation was little more than a “Soviet-style production quota,” according to Marlo Lewis, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).

“Like all central planning schemes, there comes a point where even the commissar has to admit that it’s just not working,” Lewis said in a statement.

On Nov. 15, EPA announced that it “is proposing a cellulosic biofuel volume for 2014 that is below the applicable volume specified in the [2007 Energy Independence and Security] Act,” due in part to the fact that only 20,000 gallons of cellulosic biofuels were produced last year, “in lower volumes than foreseen by statutory targets,” according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Those “statutory targets” required “1 billion gallons in 2013, increasing to 16 billion gallons by 2022,” EIA reported. But actual production of ethanol from wood, grass and inedible plant material didn’t even come close.

EPA scaled back its Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, which has been in effect since 2007, from 18.15 billion gallons to 15.21 billion gallons in 2014 after an Associated Press investigation revealed that “even as environmental policy, the RFS is a bust.”

“As farmers rushed to find new places to plant corn, they wiped out millions of acres of conservation land, destroyed habitat and polluted water supplies. Five million acres of land set aside for conservation — more than Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined — have vanished on Obama's watch,” AP reported. “The consequences are so severe that environmentalists and many scientists have now rejected corn-based ethanol as bad environmental policy.”

Instead of scaling back the ethanol mandate, Lewis says, Congress should just repeal it.

“Even if the RFS did not inflate food prices, increase pain at the pump, exacerbate world hunger, expand aquatic dead zones or contribute to habitat loss, Congress should still repeal it because the RFS flouts the core constitutional principal of equality under the law,” Lewis said. “The RFS literally compels one industry to purchase, process and sell other industries’ products.”

mrc merch