After years of protests by NRF's National Council of Chain Restaurants and other opponents, the Environmental Protection Agency has finally agreed to reconsider the volume of corn-based ethanol and other biofuels required to be blended into the nation's gasoline supply under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard program. NCCR opposes the program because diverting corn to fuel unfairly drives up food prices for chain restaurants and their customers.
The announcement came as the EPA said it would require 19.92 billion gallons of biofuel to be used during 2019. While that was a 3.3 percent increase over 2018, it fell far short of the 28 billion gallon goal set by Congress in 2007. Under the legislation that established the RFS, EPA is required to conduct a “reset” of the levels if it misses annual targets by 20 percent or more for two years in a row. EPA said it would work on adopting new regulations that would establish new requirements for 2020 through 2022 but did not indicate what levels might be set.
NCCR welcomed the move, saying it gives EPA “the opportunity to ramp down” current levels that are “wildly unrealistic.”
The Renewable Fuel Standard is a federal program that requires energy companies to blend billions of gallons of biofuels into the nation’s gasoline supply each year. The requirement has created a huge demand for corn, which has dramatically increased its price as well as the price of all animal products that use corn as feedstock. That has created price shocks for beef, dairy, pork, eggs, turkey, chicken and other foods, which has driven up costs for restaurants, retailers who sell food, and, ultimately, U.S. consumers.
Why it matters to restaurants and retailers
A PricewaterhouseCoopers study commissioned by NCCR found that the ethanol mandate costs restaurants $3.2 billion a year. One franchise owner told Congress that the mandate costs his four restaurants $120,000 a year, taking away funds that could be used to open additional locations and create new jobs.
NCCR advocates to repeal ethanol mandate
NCCR has led the chain restaurant industry’s efforts to have the Renewable Fuel Standard repealed, arguing that corn should be used for food rather than fuel. NCCR had repeatedly taken executives and franchise owners from member companies to Capitol Hill to testify before Congress, and has formed a coalition with restaurant companies. The coalition’s Feed Food Fairness: Take RFS Off the Menu campaign is aimed at passage of legislation to overturn or roll back the program.
The National Council of Chain Restaurants, a division of the National Retail Federation, is the leading organization exclusively representing chain restaurant companies. For more than 40 years, NCCR has worked to advance sound public policy that serves restaurant businesses and the millions of people they employ.