Ned Bowman: Reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard would help our business community

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With only a few remaining days in October, it’s important to highlight that this is National Manufacturing Month. Most of us understand how integral the manufacturing industry is to our city, state and country.

Manufacturing drives our economy, creates products and services we rely on every day, builds infrastructure and generates job growth. We need the manufacturing industry to remain healthy and robust. One way to ensure its success would be to consider reforming a federal regulation that seeks to force ethanol into fuel at an increased rate each year.

While the U.S. is making an effort to regulate our nation’s emissions with the Clean Power Plan, another federal regulation – the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – is counterproductive to those goals as well as our industrial needs.

The RFS mandates increased consumption of ethanol made from corn. It was initially conceived in an attempt to reduce the nation’s greenhouse gas and increase investment in biofuels production. Since the RFS was enacted in 2005, ethanol production and corn growth have increased exponentially. Now 90 percent of the U.S. fuel supply contains at least 10 percent ethanol in order to meet the RFS’ corn ethanol mandate. And the ramifications of this policy are already abundantly evident.

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) study found that an ethanol production plant in Illinois generated emissions higher than 30 times the government’s initial estimates. Further, the federal Environmental Protection Agency found that burning ethanol in vehicles also contributes to an increase in emissions. Specifically, the agency found that fuels containing 10 percent ethanol actually increase nitrogen oxide emissions. As a result, ozone concentrations are increasing in some states that are generating smog levels that put them at risk of violating current ozone standards by 2022.

The damage caused by the RFS does not stop at our air quality. In addition to directly disrupting the nation’s efforts to reduce emissions, mandating ethanol consumption is hurting consumers and many of us who rely on engines for our livelihood(s). With a third less energy efficiency than regular gasoline, manufacturers are increasing their fueling costs, because ethanol burns more quickly than regular gasoline.

Ethanol also damages engines. In fact, the EPA does not allow the use of gasoline blended with up to 15 percent ethanol in many vehicle engines, including vehicles with heavy-duty engines such as buses and delivery trucks, off-road vehicles such as snowmobiles and boats, or equipment such as lawnmowers and chain saws.

This hits Florida’s industries particularly hard. With more than 1,900 marine businesses and nearly 1,800 members of the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association, the costs of ethanol’s damages are insurmountable and are detrimental to large and small businesses alike.

As a member of the manufacturing community, I have seen businesses suffer as they shoulder the burden of the RFS and its ethanol mandate. We need to speak out against senseless policies like the RFS that not only hurt our environment but also our industries and our hardworking citizens.

As the National Manufacturing Month comes to a close, let’s help what makes our nation thrive and encourage our elected officials to reform RFS. We must work together to find solutions that help this great nation.

Ned Bowman is the executive director of the Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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