A few years ago, ethanol was hailed as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our use of imported oil.
These beliefs led to bipartisan support for ethanol mandates and subsidies. In 2005, President Bush signed a renewable fuel mandate in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and then increased the mandate in 2007 in the Energy Independence and Security Act. The mandate requires the production of 20.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2015 increasing to 36 billion gallons in 2022. The mandate also required 16 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuel to be produced by 2022. But ethanol policy is not without its flaws. The ethanol mandate increases the cost of food and it does not necessarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Even worse, EPA is incredibly forcing refiners to pay a fine for not hitting cellulosic ethanol targets that even the EIA projects will be impossible, and even though in 2011 there was no evidence that any cellulosic ethanol was available commercially to make it possible for the refiners to comply with the regulation.