Nearly 15 years ago, Congress created the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a government mandate that requires U.S. transportation fuels to contain a minimum percentage of biofuels. President Bush signed the mandate into law, and it’s been reauthorized several times since then. Proponents of the RFS argue that it will lessen U.S. dependence on oil and foreign sources of energy. But this argument is misguided, and the RFS is bad policy that hasn’t been effective or moved the U.S. any closer towards energy independence.
Not only has the RFS not been effective, I’d argue it’s been harmful. Take a look at boating engines for an example.
While most boats operate on ethanol-free, or “E0” gas, federal law states that boats can safely operate up to a maximum of E10 gasoline, which contains 10% ethanol. A government mandate on E15 is problematic for boaters because it minimizes the availability of boat-safe gasoline options in gas stations. This seems counterintuitive, as the government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers in the marketplace, and the RFS does just that.
On a slightly related but different note, I think it’s worth mentioning the lack of public awareness and education surrounding ethanol free gas. The EPA has neglected to address the potential harm higher ethanol levels in gas have on engines, leaving millions of consumers in the dark when it comes to purchasing E-15 gasoline.
A recent study showed that 95 percent of boaters get fuel from gas stations and 64 percent of consumers cited that they don’t pay attention to the fuel they use because they believe all gasoline is safe to use in their products engines.
Recreational boating is a $121 billion-dollar industry, and one that hits close to home for folks in Mooresville, with Lake Norman being the largest manmade lake in the state of North Carolina. This is why I recently became an original cosponsor of legislation that would scrap the RFS, altogether.
At the end of the day, the RFS is a flawed policy and bad for boaters and consumers across America. I’m an elected official, but I don’t pretend that my market predictions are any better than yours, which is why politicians shouldn’t be in the business of distorting markets and catering to special interests.
I’ll pick my constituents every day over special interests, and this is why I’ll continue the fight to kill this mandate.
Rep. Ted Budd is a member of the U.S. House representing Iredell County in Congress.