Ethanol law has become a mandate to nowhere

Research continues into the elusive formula for cellulosic ethanol (AP)

Sunday’s column, available on houstonchronicle.com:

We’re squabbling about legislation that clearly hasn’t worked.

Last week, the oil and ethanol industries traded barbs over the future of a 2005 law that requires blending the corn-based additive in gasoline.

The American Petroleum Institute, the mouthpiece of the energy industry, released a report that found the Renewable Fuels Standard will drive up gasoline prices and shave as much as $770 billion from the country’s gross domestic product in the next two years.

“The RFS is bad policy for anyone that drives a car, transports goods, or purchases products that rely on gasoline – in other words, virtually everyone,” the institute’s Robert Greco told reporters last week.

Ethanol’s impact on gasoline prices, though, remains less of a factor than the price of crude oil, and while gasoline prices have been rising, they are still lower than they were a year ago.

SHOW MORE

About The Author

Loren Steffy is the business columnist for the Houston Chronicle. His column appears in on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. He is also the author of "Drowning in Oil: BP and the Reckless Pursuit of Profit," and "The Man Who Thought Like a Ship."