The Obama administration, has enacted so many foolish and cost-increasing energy policies, it is easy to think that they are its purview alone. But in 2007, Republicans were just as guilty. Seeds were planted and a garden of bad legislation took root in a totally different energy environment.
Enacted, in 2005 and strengthened in 2007, the Renewable Fuel Standard — also known as the ethanol mandate — had true bipartisan support. Both Republicans and Democrats lauded the mandate as America's solution to U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
Compared to 2007, several things are different today. The big one is the economy. We, as a country, were still living large in 2007. We were also still dependent on oil from overseas and our purchases were funding terrorism. Plus, it was, then, generally believed by many that our globe was warming — and it was our fault because of burning fossil fuels. When presented with the idea of growing our gasoline, even though it might cost more, it seemed worth it — after all, what was a few cents a gallon to thumb our nose at the Middle East and save the planet?
But this is a different day. Thanks to the combined technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, America is rich with oil-and-gas resources. Since 2007, the U.S. has trimmed its CO2 emissions — while they've grown globally. The predicted warming (and accompanying catastrophes) isn't happening.
When the Energy Independence and Security Act was passed in 2007, it was assumed that gasoline demand would continue to rise indefinitely so larger volumes of ethanol could be blended into gasoline every year. Rather than requiring a percentage of ethanol, the law mandated a growing number of gallons of ethanol be used.
Instead, gasoline demand peaked in 2007 and began to decline, reducing the amount of gasoline consumed in the U.S. Still, the law requires refiners to blend ever-increasing volumes of ethanol into gasoline every year until 36 billion gallons of ethanol is blended into the nation's fuel supplies by 2022.
It is the mandate that allowed the ethanol tax credit to expire at beginning of 2012. The growing mandates gave the corn farmers plenty of incentive.
In the modern era, with ethanol no longer needed due to America's increasing oil production and the mandates' unreasonable requirements, an unusual collection of opponents has risen up against ethanol: environmentalists and big oil, auto manufacturers and anti-hunger groups.
Much to everyone's surprise, last November the EPA came out with a proposal to use its authority to make a practical decision to keep the mandate from increasing that resulted in a cut in the amount of biofuels that refiners would need to mix into their fuels — a decision that was required to be made by the end of November 2013. To date, in the seventh month of 2014, the EPA still has not released the 2014 mandates.
On Thursday, July 24, White House Advisor John Podesta met with select Democrat senators including Al Franken, of Minnesota, to discuss the EPA's November 2013 proposal to lower ethanol targets — which, according to reports, Franken called: "unacceptable." The Hill quotes Franken as saying: "White House adviser John Podesta has indicated the administration plans to raise the amount of ethanol and other biofuels that must be blended into the nation's fuel supply."
All of this amid new reports that ethanol has little if any effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change. A Congressional Budget Office report, released on June 26, states: "available evidence suggests that replacing gasoline with corn ethanol has only limited potential for reducing emissions (and some studies indicate that it could increase emissions)."
It may have been Bush who planted the ethanol mandate, but it is the Obama administration that is fertilizing it and keeping it alive, when it should be yanked out by its roots.