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Polls Show Different Opinions on Renewable Fuel Standard

Hoosier Ag Today by: Gary Truitt

According to data released Wednesday by the American Petroleum Institute, 77 percent of registered voters are concerned that increasing the ethanol blend level over 10 percent under the Renewable Fuel Standard could drive up gasoline prices for consumers.

Seventy-seven percent of voters are also concerned that automakers say they might not provide warranty coverage if owners fuel their vehicles with a higher ethanol blend levels. Seventy-six percent of voters worry that using corn for energy production instead of food could increase food costs as well.

“The fact is, our new energy realities have made the RFS obsolete,” API Downstream Group Director Frank Macchiarola told reporters during a conference call on Wednesday. “It is a broken and outdated policy. Americans are not consuming as much gasoline as Congress estimated they would when the mandate was passed in 2007. That means current ethanol mandates push far more ethanol into gasoline than today’s vehicles can accommodate. ”

Though Republicans were generally more concerned about increasing the RFS, with 85 percent of Republicans worried the gas prices would increase and the U.S. fuel supply would see losses, other parties showed only slightly lower levels of concern. Seventy-five percent of Democrats and 71 percent of Independents said breaching the blend wall could hurt consumers.

“A vast majority of Americans are deeply concerned by the consequences of this broken RFS policy. In other words, the public gets it. Regardless of party affiliation, voters are concerned with mandates that force too much ethanol into our fuel supply,” Macchiarola said.

However, a pushback poll released by the Renewable Fuels Association also released on Wednesday showed vastly different results. Fifty-seven percent of voters said they supported the RFS. Nineteen percent of voters said they opposed the mandate.

“It’s no surprise that API, an organization which has made its top priority to get rid of the RFS, is trotting out a phony faux poll to support its antediluvian narrative about biofuels,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen in a statement. “This push poll, which uses opinionated statements to elicit a negative response to biofuels, is not reflective of reality.”

Dinneen also said the API exaggerated claims that the RFS has raised food prices 25 percent.
“Instead food prices have risen by an average of just 2.7 percent per year since 2005, the year RFS was adopted. In fact, only 17 cents of every dollar spent on food pays for the raw farm ingredients in the food item. The other 83 cents pay for processing, transportation, labor, packaging, advertising and other costs,” Dinneen said.The RFA poll, conducted by Morning Consult, included results from 2,004 registered voters. The data cited by API was pulled from a poll, conducted by Harris Poll, of 1,013 registered voters.

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