We support regulations that benefit the economic vitality of our capitalistic nation and serve no threat to our national security. The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was a program that seemed to be consistent with that mission. However, it is without a doubt a program that is filled with “unintended consequences.”
First, the government mandate that corn be used in fuel drove up the cost of corn, which, in turn, increased the cost of nearly every food there is. Most foods at the grocery store have corn syrup, corn starch or some other corn derivative. Prices for all are higher because of the mandate. Most meats, including chicken, turkey, beef and pork come from animals that eat corn feed. When the price of corn goes up, it has a direct effect on the price of those commodities. Also, eating out is more expensive for the same reason whether it is at McDonald’s or a five-star restaurant.
Second, it was claimed that the Renewable Fuel Standard would be good for the environment. That is far from the truth. The fact is it takes 28 percent more energy to produce corn ethanol fuel than to stay with simple fossil fuels. That is more greenhouse gases, not less. If greenhouse gases are causing global warming, the RFS is making it worse.
Also, corn crops have more chemical and phosphorous runoff than any other crop. This increases pollution of our waters as well as our air. Therefore, the Sierra Club and the National Black Chamber of Commerce are together on this issue.
Older auto engines and small engines for lawn mowers, snow blowers, motorcycles, etc., are not designed to handle corn ethanol fuel, and its use can result in damage — and a shortened lifespan — for those engines. The difference is overwhelming. The cost increase affects everyone.
The concept that the government has mandated exactly what will be used for fuel and how much will be produced annually squelches innovation and new advances. Since the government has decided winners and losers nearly all of us become losers. They have created an incentive not to develop new, more efficient technology.
It is quite clear that those with limited resources will be affected the most. We are causing economic pain on our citizens and business owners. Also, we are putting Mother Earth at more risk.
• Harry C. Alford is president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce (nationalbcc.org). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.