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Karl's Column - Renewable Fuels for Michigan

by Carolyn Binder

Certainly you would expect the Renewable Fuels Association to insist the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stand by it’s documented direction for RFS (Renewable Fuels Standard) for the year 2014. The latest move against RFS for next year is laid out in a letter to EPA by Congressman Bob Goodlatte, Republican from Virginia and cosigned by several of his colleagues, calling for a reduction in the 2014 RFS blending requirements.

As I understand it, the addition of biofuel - ethanol is the best example - to gasoline at the rate of ten percent - - or the fifteen percent that is coming - - means that less petroleum product is required to fill your tank.  10% ethanol plus 90% petroleum product - - - and so on.  There’s been a lot of noise recently about potential problems that have been test-proven to be unworthy of concern; challenged by various lab reports touting real value in the biofuel industry.  That would include the most recent revelation of a list of automobiles equipped with engines proven to thrive on E-15.  That assurance comes from the auto builders themselves. The list covers 70% of the Top 20 best-selling models for 2014.  A complete list of makes and models 2012, 2013, 2014 approved for E15 use is available at www.Ethanol/RFA.org, or www.ChooseEthanol.com.

You’ve heard about - seen on TV, the oil industry’s savaging of the ethanol concept - -an attack blown away by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s report that reviewed 43 auto engine studies and found no data to support Big Oil’s stories of engine failure on E15.  My own view is, that it’s good for the economy, and national pride, to be weaning ourselves from dependence on foreign-produced oil.  A lot of folks seem to have lost track of the major motive boosting alternative fuel.  It was not necessarily to save money at the pump, although that should happen; it surely was not intended primarily to make corn significantly more valuable, although that happened, and is happening.  It was, and is, intended, literally, to become alternative to petroleum motor fuels.

Oh, my goodness - maybe that’s why the American Petroleum Institute and its members are so adamantly opposed to Renewable Fuels!

Michigan State University's Bill Knudson, marketing specialist at the MSU Product Center concludes that if the Renewable Fuels Standards (RFS) is eliminated, Michigan would lose 260 plus million dollars from lower corn prices; almost 173 million dollars in reduced ethanol production; and 288 million dollars in the ethanol industry specifically, and in the general economy.  Those dollar numbers are based on analysis conducted by the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development at Iowa State University.  The number of jobs to be lost is a very conservative  estimate, in that the number of jobs to be lost in the farming sector is more difficult.