Group Says Ethanol Mandates Hurt Environment, Economy

COLUMBUS – A report issued by the Center for Regulatory Solutions, a group backed by the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, finds that federal mandates that call for the increased use of corn ethanol in fuel have damaged both Ohio’s environment and economy.

According to the report, increasing volumes of corn ethanol in the country’s fuel supply has produced an additional 1.92 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in Ohio since 2005, the equivalent of adding nearly 400,000 cars to the road in a single year.

In 2005, Congress approved and President George W. Bush signed into law the Energy Policy Act, which established the Renewable Fuels Standard. This provision created a set of mandates that required increasing volumes of ethanol to be added to the nation’s fuel supply.

However, the report finds that the lower energy content of ethanol resulted in $440 million in additional transportation costs for consumers in 2014. Between 2005 and 2014, Ohioans paid more than $4 billion total in additional fuel costs, and these expenditures resulted in a loss of $4.8 billion in GDP, $2.7 billion in lower labor income, and the equivalent of 5,500 lost jobs per year, the report says.

Corn ethanol has also added 1.92 million metric tons of carbon emissions in Ohio between 2005 and 2014, equivalent to the emissions of 398,000 vehicles in a single year, the report notes.

The Center for Regulatory Solutions also says that corn ethanol production and consumption in Ohio has generated an additional 5,000 tons of volatile organic compounds and 28,000 tons of nitrogen oxides. Both contribute to the production of ozone.

Other damaging effects include a reduction of protected lands in Ohio, additional soil erosion, and increased water usage, the report says.

The report emphasizes groups such as the Central Ohio Chapter of the Sierra Club have also criticized the country’s corn ethanol policy, while Gov. John Kasich has called for the Renewable Fuels Standard should be “phased out.”

“Our report puts the spotlight directly on the failures of Washington’s corn and ethanol mandate on Ohio,” Karen Kerrigan, president and CEO of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, said in a statement.

“Supporters of corn ethanol promised economic and environmental gains from using corn in our fuel supply. Ten years later, we are left with broken promises and a lose-lose mandate for both the environment and the small businesses that power our economy,” she continued. “No wonder environmentalists like Al Gore have called corn ethanol mandates a mistake.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.