Hillary Clinton may be changing her mind (again) on biofuel mandates, and this time that could be a good thing. Back in 2002 Clinton opposed a weaker version of today’s regime of ethanol mandates, yet last year she praised the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) on the campaign trail in Iowa. Now, as Reuters reports, Clinton is looking to California regulators for advice on how to potentially revise our broken biofuel system:
Clinton advisers have contacted the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to discuss whether a policy like California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, a market-based system rather than a mandate, could be applied at a national level to replace or augment the Renewable Fuel Standard, and other issues, CARB officials said. […]
The move is the clearest sign yet that, if elected, Clinton would seek to adjust the regulation, called the Renewable Fuel Standard, possibly hurting her chances in corn-growing states like Iowa where she faces a tough battle against Republican rival Donald Trump in the Nov. 8 election.
This back and forth is enough to make your neck ache the way it might watching a tennis match, but it’s a step in the right direction to see a presidential candidate considering alternatives to this boondoggle. We won’t hold our breath for Trump or Clinton to issue the denunciation that the RFS deserves—neither wants to lose key votes in the corn belt.
But outside of the corn industry, a reform or even a full-fledged repeal of our biofuel mandates would make sense for every stakeholder. These mandates raise global food prices, starving the world’s poor. They raise gas prices, gouging American drivers. They hurt refiners, who are forced to pay sometimes exorbitant costs to comply with a system that doesn’t accurately track the supply and demand for ethanol in our national fuel supply. And maybe most damning of all, they’re bad for the environment.
Our current biofuels policy hits that rare sour spot, and you’d think more politicians would see the wisdom in working against it, but Big Corn still holds plenty of sway in the Midwest. We won’t bust out the pom-poms for Clinton’s reconsideration of the RFS just yet, but it is worth recognition as a good sign for the fight against this disastrous policy.