The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), the voice of ethanol producers, has been active in promoting the dubious benefits of diverting food in the form of corn to ethanol. The mantra of freedom from oil imports has pervaded Washington and created a solid bloc of farm-state legislators on both sides of the aisle to advance the cause of ethanol production. Oblivious to science and economics, the RFA continues to disseminate reports and issue statements favoring expanded production of domestic ethanol and to debar importation of cane-derived ethanol from Brazil.
On August 7 the RFA responded to a detailed evaluation conducted by the Environmental Protection Administration which included a lifecycle greenhouse gas analysis. Any scientist presenting data which detracts from the wisdom of diverting corn to ethanol is branded as an "advocate" casting aspersions on scientific detachment. The RFA standpoint is encapsulated in a comment by Bob Dinneen, the president of the RFA that "EPA has asked the foxes to guard the hen house on this issue."
The organization objects to environmental lawyer Timothy Searchinger on the EPA review panel, claiming bias. Effectively the RFA claim that if any scientist, policy-maker has previously opposed production of ethanol from corn they are automatically disqualified from serving on any review panel. The RFA may justifiably question the application of models to determine the impact of biofuels on greenhouse gas emission. By the same token scientists and economists can question the slanted and narrow economic justifications for corn-ethanol production.
The RFA would be well advised to oppose scientific reports and review papers on scientific and economic principle rather than innuendo and emotion. Disparaging individuals and the composition of boards and attacking the personal motives and integrity of those who oppose corn ethanol will not advance their objective of restoring profitability to a floundering industry which could not survive without considerable government support, ultimately at the expense of U.S. consumers, taxpayers and the livestock industry.