Chain restaurants say EPA ethanol fuel level for 2018 is too high

"The EPA continues to bow to pressure from the ethanol industry."

NCCR Executive Director David French

WASHINGTON – The National Council of Chain Restaurants said 2018 ethanol fuel levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency today are too high and called for the ethanol mandate under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard program to be reduced or repealed by Congress.

“The EPA continues to bow to pressure from the ethanol industry and its advocates in Congress, so today’s action is no surprise,” NCCR Executive Director David French said. “Instead of sticking with the arbitrary 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol Congress set a decade ago when the outlook for fuel usage was very different, EPA should have exercised its waiver authority to lower the ethanol mandate to more rational and sustainable levels. But the power of the ethanol industry and a few lawmakers from the corn-growing Midwest has proved too much for the EPA to overcome, and we are left with a biofuel mandate for next year that is too high and will end up costing consumers, restaurants and others in the food supply chain more through higher food prices.”

“As we’ve said many times before, the only lasting solution to the problems caused by the ethanol mandate is for Congress to act,” French said. “The mandate must be legislatively reformed or better yet repealed altogether. The EPA can’t be relied on to mitigate the damage this mandate wreaks on the environment, consumers and our nation’s food supply.”

The EPA announced today that fuel companies will be required to blend 19.29 billion gallons of biofuel into the nation’s gasoline supply in 2018, which is a 50 million gallon increase from what the agency proposed in July and 10 million gallons more than what was mandated for this year. Of that amount, 15 billion gallons must come from corn ethanol, the oldest biofuel, which – counterintuitively – is actually harmful to the environment. The remainder must come from “advanced” biofuels like biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol and other niche fuels. EPA increased the mandate for the cellulosic category by 50 million gallons above the 238 million it proposed in July. The agency’s mandate for soy biodiesel remained unchanged from the 2.1 billion gallons proposed in July.

Enacted in 2005, the RFS has created an artificial demand for corn and soybeans, driving up food prices for consumers and introducing market volatility that makes it harder for restaurants and food retailers to forecast costs and make long-term business decisions. NCCR has repeatedly asked Congress to repeal the program.

NCCR is the leading trade association exclusively representing chain restaurant companies. For more than 40 years, NCCR has worked to advance sound public policy that best serves the interests of restaurant businesses and the millions of people they employ. NCCR members include the country's most-respected quick-service and table-service chains. NCCR is a division of the National Retail Federation, the world's largest retail trade group.