The recent article, “America is off Foreign Oil, No Thanks to Ethanol” has it all wrong.
First of all, America is not completely “off” foreign oil, as the article claims. According to the latest available data, 47 percent of crude refined at U.S. oil refineries in December came from foreign sources. It is true, America is importing less oil than any time in the last 45 years, but that is thanks to America’s successful clean energy policy, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), not in spite of it. Rolling this policy back will only force the demand for foreign oil to reverse course.
When the RFS was signed into law by President George W. Bush – with bipartisan Congressional support – it was envisioned as a two-part strategy: harness the power of homegrown, renewable fuel and wean America off of our dependence on foreign oil from hostile, unstable nations in the Middle East. The law required that each year, an increasing percentage of biofuels be blended into our fuel supply. And overall, the RFS has been a great success.
Today, homegrown ethanol displaces over 1 million gallons of petroleum per day, our dependence on foreign oil is at its lowest rate in years, and ten percent of the nation’s fuel supply comes from cost competitive biofuels.
The RFS has freed us from the foreign oil cartel. In 2015 alone, biofuels – like ethanol – displaced 527 million barrels of imported crude oil. But it did more than just that. The RFS has lowered prices at the pump and reduced transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions by 589.33 million metric tons – the carbon equivalent of removing more than 124 million cars from the road. If the ethanol levels of today weren’t blended into our oil supply, oil companies would need to replace it with dangerous carcinogens like benzene and toluene, both of which are more expensive and bad for the environment.
Additionally, this successful energy policy revitalized rural America, allowing us to harness homegrown energy from renewable sources and injecting billions in investment into the rural economy. It has created over 850,000 well-paying jobs acrossAmerica – and the industry provides an economic annual output of $18.5 billion, according to an economic impact report from Fuels America.
Without the RFS, there would be no alternative to oil. The RFS paves the way for a free and open fuel market beyond the grip of the oil industry, without a dollar from taxpayers. The oil industry will do anything for their monopoly on fuel. Perhaps that’s why Big Oil has been spending millions to attack the standard, while they themselves receive over $800 million in tax breaks and $7 billion in government subsidies every year. Big Oil is waging war on this policy.
The RFS is working. It’s the one energy policy that creates American jobs, harnesses the resources in America’s heartland and reduces our reliance on foreign oil from unfriendly nations – all while lowering prices at the pump for American consumers and making the air we breathe a little cleaner. At a time when gas demand is up and corporate average fuel economy is goingbackwards for the first time since the mid-1970s, now is not the time to goback to a fossil fuels-only agenda.
Robert White is VP of Industry Relations for the Renewable Fuels Association