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Bob Greco's Remarks at Press Conference to Release RFS Public Opinion Poll

Press briefing on RFS poll
Bob Greco, API downstream group director
Thursday, November 19, 2015

Opening statement, as prepared for delivery:

Good afternoon, and thanks for joining our call today. I want to spend the next few minutes laying out a new poll by Harris Poll that gauges voters’ opinions and perceptions of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The results are telling: Across the political spectrum, voters are concerned about the significant damage the RFS-mandated higher ethanol blends could cause to automobiles, motorcycles and almost every type of gasoline powered engine . . .from leaf blowers to snowmobiles.

• Seventy-five percent of respondents are concerned that most auto manufacturers do not warranty their vehicles if they are fueled with an ethanol blend that is over 10 percent. Breaking it down by party, 80 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of independents and 74 percent of Democrats are concerned. 
• What’s more, 77 percent are concerned that the diversion of ever-increasing amounts of corn, a staple food crop, to energy production rather than to food could result in higher food costs and contribute to world hunger. That’s 85 percent of Republicans, 82 percent of independents and 76 percent of Democrats.
• And finally, 78 percent are concerned that breaching the ethanol blend wall could drive up the cost of gasoline for consumers and reduce the nation’s fuel supply. That’s 91 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of independents, and 73 percent of Democrats.

In other words, the public gets it. Regardless of their party affiliation, voters are concerned with mandates that try to force too much ethanol into our fuel supply.

Our job is to make sure that Congress, the president and candidates get it. And that they listen to the American people.

To that end, API continues to work with allied national trade associations to demonstrate just how harmful continued implementation of the RFS could be for consumers and our nation’s economy.

We continue to advocate a two- step solution:

First, EPA needs to immediately waive down the 2016 total ethanol mandate to no more than 9.7 percent of total gasoline demand. This would provide a stopgap solution and temporarily protect consumers by avoiding the 10 percent ethanol blend wall while allowing some non-ethanol gasoline to meet consumer demand. We expect EPA to release the 2016 mandate, as well as the mandates for 2014 and 2015, by November 30.

Second, Congress must repeal or significantly reform the RFS to protect consumers over the long-run.

The fact is, our new energy realities have made the RFS obsolete. Americans aren’t consuming as much gasoline as Congress assumed they would when they wrote the legislation in 2007. That means current ethanol mandates push far more ethanol – far too quickly – into gasoline than today’s vehicles can safely accommodate.

And, according to the Department of Energy’s fuel economy website, fuel costs can be significantly higher when consumers use higher ethanol blends.

What’s more, the increasing mandates under the RFS could push gasoline costs up, according to numerous studies and a report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

And corn-based ethanol is worse for the environment: EPA says that lifecycle emissions from corn ethanol are 27 percent higher than gasoline.

We’ll use this poll to remind members of Congress and the administration that American voters are very concerned about the costs and consequences of this unworkable and unnecessary mandate.

Congress has already taken notice, as is evidenced by the recent bipartisan letter from 185 House members urging EPA to keep the ethanol mandates below the blend wall to protect American consumers.

Thank you for your time and attention. Now, I’ll be happy to take your questions.