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Lamberty Report: "Upon Further Review..."
by Ron Lamberty

Yes, it’s football season again, and once again I will don the stripes and travel to small towns to enforce the rules as bitter rivals face each other on the gridiron. In the process, my knowledge of the rules will be challenged by those who’ve never read a rule book, and my impartiality will be questioned by those who are only in attendance because they are fiercely partial.

It is my experience that coaches take two different approaches to officials – winners work on fundamentals, losers work on the refs.

There is that school of thought (unfortunately a very large one) that “working the refs” will somehow get the officials to make more calls in the favor of those doing the work. In other words, if you yell or whine to the official enough, he or she will eventually make a decision in your team’s favor. It’s an interesting strategy, which at the heart of it has the belief – actually a desire – for the ref to make bad calls, as long as those bad calls are made on your behalf. It’s an attitude that has to come from knowing that you can’t win a fair fight, that you need to make the playing field uneven in your favor if you have any shot of winning.

Ethanol’s opponents had a similar strategy as they asked U.S. EPA “referee” Stephen Johnson to cut the required volume of this year’s Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) in half. “Coach” Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, and his team of big corporate food and livestock producers and their “fans” in the big PR firms, asked for a review of the RFS, claiming that using corn for ethanol was causing everything from global starvation to Amazon deforestation, to chicken farmers losing so much money that they could barely afford a $100,000 campaign contribution and a jet to get the call overturned.

The problem was they didn’t know the rules. The rules said “severe economic harm,” not “businesses that believe they are entitled to get corn for nothing forever.” Johnson ruled that there were other factors much bigger than ethanol that caused the problems Perry and his followers were complaining about, and the rules said you don’t overturn the RFS for that. The RFS on the field stands.

Following the ruling, the “blame ethanol” team did what losers usually do – blamed the defeat on the ref. They apparently didn’t care to read the analysis of the facts that went with EPA’s ruling. They claimed Johnson was partial, while ignoring the fact that this waiver was designed primarily to protect the food producers who have still not passed on savings from reduced corn prices, and ignoring the biggest factor in the entire debate – the rising cost of the oil produced in Coach Perry’s home state.

The RFS is helping keep gas prices and oil imports down. It’s a good playbook.

Good call, Mr. Johnson.

© American Coalition for Ethanol, all rights reserved.
The American Coalition for Ethanol publishes Ethanol Today magazine each month to cover the biofuels industry�s hot topics, including cellulosic ethanol, E85, corn ethanol, food versus fuel, ethanol�s carbon footprint, E10, E15, and mid-range ethanol blends.
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