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While President Trump promised to “drain the swamp,” he also voiced his commitment to the biofuels industry and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). These promises are in direct conflict. No federal program epitomizes the metaphorical swamp water of Washington better than the RFS.
This week, public comments are due on Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed RFS targets for 2018. The proposal is a mixed bag. As it stands, the administration needs to do more on RFS to maintain its credibility as a Washington change agent. There’s no having your cake and eating it too when it comes to fighting the DC establishment and appeasing the biofuels lobby.
RFS is a case-study in bad public policy. It hits most all of the broad systemic problems of big government routinely raised by free-market advocates.
Congress created RFS in 2005 and expanded it in 2007. Seeking to curb America’s reliance on foreign oil, Congress mandated increasing volumes of biofuels, primarily corn-based ethanol, be blended into the nation’s fuel supply. Congress set into statute raw gallon figures for these fuels and delegated authority to EPA to establish annual compliance rules. Essentially, RFS is nothing more the Soviet-style central planning of the fuel market—which is why it was destined to wreak havoc.