Kenneth Harman, Jr., Illinois Corn Growers Association President; Richard Guebert, Jr., Illinois Farm Bureau President; and Raymond E. Defenbaugh, Illinois Renewable Fuels Association President issued the following joint statement today regarding the anti-ethanol campaign currently underway in Illinois.
“The anti-ethanol smear campaign currently underway in Illinois is heavy on rhetoric and short on facts. The timing is suspicious, as we’re just about ten days away from the deadline that requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s release of its final rule making on the Renewable Fuel Standard RVO requirement. Such a desperate, expensive spend on advertising reflects the precarious position of Big Oil. They don’t have a leg to stand on.
“We know that the Renewable Fuel Standard has been one of the most successful energy policies ever enacted. It has rejuvenated rural economies, created jobs nationwide, and lowered prices at the pump, all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“EPA recognizes that corn ethanol provides a significant reduction in greenhouse gasses. In fact, global ethanol production and use is estimated to reduce those emissions by 100 million metric tons. That’s like taking 20 million vehicles off the road. U.S. ethanol production each year displaces the gasoline equivalent of 512 million barrels of crude oil. That’s more than we import annually from Saudi Arabia.
Illinois is the second largest producer of ethanol in the country, so we’re talking big bucks here.
How familiar are you with a federal law on the books called the Renewable Fuel Standard, which mandates certain amounts of biofuels to be added to the nation’s fuel supply?
TOTAL FAMILIAR 37%
TOTAL NOT FAMILIAR 63%
VERY FAMILIAR 4%
SOMEWHAT FAMILIAR 33%
NOT VERY FAMILIAR 29%
NOT AT ALL FAMILIAR 34%
Let me give you some information about the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS. The RFS is a federal program established in 2005 and expanded in 2007 that requires biofuels, such as corn ethanol, to be blended into your gasoline. The RFS requires more and more biofuels, particularly corn ethanol, be blended added to the nation’s fuel supply each year.
Based on what you know, do you agree or disagree with the RFS and the increased use of corn ethanol in our nation’s fuel supply each year?
Now, let me tell you a bit more about the RFS. When the RFS was created, Congress included specific targets for how much ethanol should be added to the fuel supply each year, with the numbers going up each year. But earlier this year, EPA said that those congressional targets were too high, in part because demand for gasoline has actually gone down. That’s something Congress never predicted, and which wasn’t included in the original models.
Knowing this, would you be more or less likely to support the existing RFS and the HIGHER ethanol mandate targets?
MORE LIKELY 32%
LESS LIKELY 59%
DON’T KNOW/REFUSED 9%
And, which of the following statements comes closest to your view?
ETHANOL LEVELS SHOULD FOLLOW THE PRE-EXISTING TARGETS THAT WERE ESTABLISHED BY THE RFS IN 2007, REGARDLESS OF HOW THE DEMAND FOR FUEL CHANGES 30%
THE EPA SHOULD BE ABLE TO CHANGE THE MANDATED ETHANOL VOLUME NUMBERS IN RESPONSE TO FLUCTUATIONS IN THE FUEL MARKET 61% DON’T KNOW/REFUSED 8%
After being presented with the key findings of the Princeton study, which found that corn ethanol production nearly doubled greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over 30 years, compared to conventional gasoline, 78 percent were less likely to support the RFS and higher ethanol targets. As the survey continued, 73 percent of voters believed that the ethanol mandate has an overall negative effect on the environment. 83 percent told us they were less likely to support the program once they learned of the Environmental Working Group study that found ethanol production in 2014 resulted in 27 million more tons of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere. 72 percent of Illinoisans were less likely to support the RFS and higher ethanol targets after learning that scientists at the Sandia National Lab, a federally funded research institution, found that producing one gallon of ethanol from irrigated corn could require up to 880 gallons of water. And 83 percent believe mandating that more corn ethanol be added to the fuel supply could decrease the country’s water supply.
While only a small percentage of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, the average governor’s approval rating is a healthy 54 percent. An average of 34 percent disapproved.
Running for president appears to be a good path to a lousy approval rating in one’s home state, the surveys show. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – both of whom have an approval rating of just 40 percent — join Jindal near the bottom of the rankings (Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who sports a 59 percent approval rating, is the lone exception).
On the other hand, voters appear to give the benefit of the doubt to governors who have only recently won office: Less than a year into their terms, Baker, Hogan, Alaska’s Walker, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) all have approval ratings north of 59 percent. Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) both have approval ratings over 50 percent.
Only one new governor – Illinois’s Bruce Rauner (R) – is seen in a negative light: His approval rating, 42 percent, is three points lower than the percentage who disapprove of the job he’s doing.
Rauner never really had great numbers during the campaign, and these are 2016 voters, so it’s a more Democratic sample. I seriously doubt this poll would cause any sort of panic on Team Rauner.