August 27, 2008

Renewable Fuels Are Success for U.S.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer wrote a letter to the editors of the Wall Street Journal that was published today – with the headline of the letter serving as the headline for this post.

Schafer said he supports and applauds the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to deny Texas’ waiver request for the current Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). EPA’s decision was announced earlier this month.

He noted that “renewable energy is a tremendous American success story” and that the U.S. is the world leader in biofuels.

He sets the record straight on greenhouse gas emissions and noted that ethanol is lowering gas prices by 20 cents to 35 cents per gallon. (In 2007, consumers in Texas saved between $2.5 billion and $4.5 billion at the pump thanks to ethanol - that's not chicken feed! For more Texas-sized facts, check out TexasPriceCheck.)

He acknowledged that there are ripple effects, but that the sharp rise in global grain prices is driven by:
  • Soaring energy costs
  • Improved diets in rapidly developing nations
  • Two years of bad weather in some countries
  • New export restrictions in several nations.
The bottom line: U.S. biofuels production contributed only an estimated 0.2%-0.6% to the 5.1% rise in U.S. consumer food costs.

Importantly, Shafer said diversifying away from oil imports and reducing the nation's carbon footprint are "critically important objectives" -- and that "this is a time to sustain our efforts, not to retreat from the goal."

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