By Timothy J Rudnicki, Esq
One law which touches the lives of virtually every person in the United States is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RFS touches those who fuel their vehicles with renewable ethanol and those who have built and continue to sustain the biofuel industry as well as all of us who benefit from the reduced carbon emissions due to the use of renewable biofuels like ethanol. In the next few days we will know whether the EPA plans to uphold the RFS. At the least, the EPA should uphold the RFS because it is the law and for a host of social, economic, energy security and environmental reasons.
In Minnesota alone the biofuel industry supports approximately 18,600 jobs. These jobs are filled by women and men who support their households. In practical terms, biofuels help real Minnesotans pay the bills and, for example, send their young adults on to higher education and generally do those things which accompany a higher quality of life made possible by biofuels such as ethanol.
On an even more macro level, biofuels in Minnesota contributes about $1.74 billion in annual household income. And along with that are the $132 million paid in taxes. In addition to the social and economic benefits provided by the ethanol producers in Minnesota there are the tangible environmental benefits.
Annually, renewable ethanol is displacing 712,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota. For Minnesota, the use of E15 in place of E10 would serve to displace another 358,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The additional GHG emission reduction potential has the same carbon reduction value of removing 76,000 vehicles from the highways in Minnesota.
The RFS is also about consumer value and energy security. Just a few days ago E85 was selling for 62 cents less than regular and E15 has consistently been approximately 10 cents less than regular. And every gallon of renewable biofuel produced in Minnesota is one less gallon of fuel we need to import from the tar sands and overseas.
To uphold the RFS because it is the law should be self evident to the EPA. If the EPA requires additional reasons to justify doing that which is required under the law, consider the full scope of energy security, consumer, economic and environmental benefits the RFS has provided and the many more it has yet to provide under full implementation of the law. All of us are counting on the EPA to do what is right and expect the agency will do so.