A majority of American voters believe that shifting the point of obligation under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) from refiners to wholesalers and fuel retailers would harm the economy and hard-working Americans, according to a survey released by NATSO, the national trade association representing truckstops and travel plazas, the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA), and the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).
The survey, conducted by Penn Schoen Berland (PSB), found that 86% of voters believe that changing the compliance requirements under the RFS, which is intended to reduce emissions and increase the use of ethanol and other renewable fuels, would increase gasoline and diesel prices at the pump. This change would hurt every driver in the U.S., and, in turn, increase the price of many products for American consumers.
The findings also revealed that 81% of voters are concerned that shifting the cost from refiners who make fuel to wholesalers and retailers who sell it would increase fraud and the cost of overseeing the system.
“These survey findings highlight the underlying truth about the current rules under the RFS,” said Lisa Mullings, president and CEO of NATSO. “A vast majority of U.S. voters agree that any shift would increase fuel prices for consumers, add complexity to the system, and increase fraud.”
Mullings continued: “The current policy creates a strong incentive for fuel marketers to blend renewable fuels into the fuel supply while lowering the price at the pump for consumers. Changing the point of obligation would discourage fuel marketers from integrating renewable fuels into the fuel supply while simultaneously raising prices at the pump.”
These findings are being released as some refineries and their investors, who failed to invest in renewable fuel blending facilities, are now displeased with their business decisions and are pushing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to shift their costs to wholesalers and fuel retailers. More than 90% of voters agree, however, that refiners who make gasoline and diesel fuel should be responsible for compliance.
“No one wants to pay more at the gas pump to help a couple of refiners,” said Ryan McNutt, CEO of SIGMA. “Refiners already charge for the cost of compliance when they sell their products. Let’s not get fooled into letting those refiners collect money and then make everyone else pay for it again.”
“People know it’s not fair for refiners to push their compliance responsibilities onto local businesses and their customers,” added Henry Armour, president and CEO of NACS. “That’s why these survey responses were so overwhelming.”
On Dec. 1, 2016, a diverse group of associations that represents the vast majority of the fuel industry, signed onto a letter arguing that RFS compliance should not change. It is unprecedented for those who make ethanol and gasoline, as well as those who sell these products, to agree on public policy in this area.
PSB conducted online interviews from Nov. 3-7, 2016, among 1,201 likely voters nationwide. The survey has a margin of error +/-2.83 at the 95% confidence level and larger for subgroups. Survey respondents were informed that the federal government uses the RFS to encourage renewable fuels to be included in the transportation fuels markets, and that the entities which import and manufacture those fuels (such as refiners) are currently required to comply with the RFS rules (e.g., “obligated party”).