OPINION U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, have once again introduced legislation to gut the Renewable Fuel Standard. This year it’s called the Restore Environmental Sustainability to Our Renewable Energy Act. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is also an original co-sponsor of the ill-conceived legislation.
Perhaps Feinstein and Toomey are confused about the Renewable Fuel Standard. There is no corn-ethanol mandate in the program and never has been. Yet the senators are again seeking to bolster the fossil-fuels industry by trying to kill one of the most successful environmental and climate policies ever enacted by Congress. We are confident that, as with past attempts, the legislation will go nowhere.
It’s particularly ironic the senators would dare suggest this legislation would “restore environmental sustainability” when in fact it would force more petroleum into our nation’s fuel supply. Whether oil spills in the Gulf, increased carbon emissions or earthquakes in fracking country, what is environmentally sustainable about today’s oil industry?
On the contrary, renewable fuels like ethanol reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 40 percent to 50 percent compared to gasoline. They also slash harmful tailpipe pollutants like particulate matter and carbon monoxide. Economically ethanol supports jobs in rural America and decreases the cost of gas for consumers around the country. Renewable fuels are a win-win for the environment and consumers. We invite the senators to visit ethanol plants in their states to learn more.
Corn ethanol has played a significant role in achieving the goals of the Low Carbon Fuels Standard in Feinstein’s home state of California. According to the California Air Resources Board, ethanol use is responsible for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions from the California transportation sector by 18.8 million metric tons from 2011 to 2018. That’s equivalent to removing 4 million cars from the road for an entire year or eliminating the annual greenhouse-gas emissions from five coal-fired power plants.