Because of supply issues and associated impact on renewable credits, the move to E-15 blends is expected to significantly increase fuel prices. A study done by the economic consulting firm NERA found that mandating E-15 could increase the cost of gasoline by up to 30 percent and cause diesel prices to surge as much as 300 percent by 2015. This translates into a $580 million cut in take-home pay for American citizens.
The EPA has the authority to waive the renewable fuel requirement if it will cause severe harm to the economy. But when Grundler was asked how the agency defined “severe,” he admitted it has no established definition. If dramatic price increases and potential destruction of countless automobile engines isn’t “severe” economic harm, what qualifies?
A primary goal of the renewable fuel standard was to reduce dependence on foreign oil. This is no longer an issue. Supporters also argued the fuel standard generated environmental benefits. But Lankford noted that ethanol fuel fails that test because “corn-based ethanol may not be any cleaner than gasoline and has other negative environmental consequences, such as using more water for producing corn-based energy than refining gasoline.”
The Renewable Fuel Standard was a bad idea when first enacted under President George W. Bush. It remains so under President Barack Obama. Instead of demanding Americans pay higher prices for fuel that may damage or destroy their cars to “solve” problems that no longer exist, it’s time the EPA waived the mandate.
The world has changed. The EPA must change with it.