by Tom Tanton
E&E Legal Director, Science & Technology Assessment
Opinion, Fresno Bee

President Obama’s visit to Fresno will hopefully bring some much-needed clarification as to how the federal government plans to help California battle the devastating drought in the near-term. Unfortunately, the administration’s continued support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) works counter to any federal water assistance as it incentivizes the use of California’s water toward the production of ethanol —a huge drain on state water resources for a fuel that has been discredited as environmentally harmful.

As conceived in 2005, the RFS was intended to lessen gasoline demand, decrease our reliance on foreign oil and reduce our environmental impact through the introduction of first-generation biofuels like corn-based ethanol followed by a swift transition to truly advanced biofuels. Unfortunately, that transition never occurred, as the industry has yet to commercially produce these fuels. Instead, 80% of the nation’s biofuel blending requirements continue to be met with ethanol — to the detriment of our water supplies, environment and bottom line.