It's a Fact: Consumers Support Ethanol

  • Monday, 13 March 2023 09:39

Ethanol Producer Magazine

By Geoff Cooper 

Mar 10, 2023

For more than a decade, the Renewable Fuels Association has worked with national polling groups to regularly survey American voters about their attitudes toward ethanol, the Renewable Fuel Standard, and other marketplace and policy issues important to our industry. Our most recent round of polling, in which Morning Consult surveyed 1,999 registered voters, showed that support for low-cost, low-carbon renewable fuels like ethanol continues to grow.

According to the survey, nearly 65 percent of the voters support the Renewable Fuel Standard, while only 15 percent expressed some level of opposition to the program. Meanwhile, 64 percent of respondents have a favorable opinion of ethanol, compared to just 18 percent unfavorable. When it comes to higher blends of ethanol, 68 percent support increasing the availability of E15 to help lower fuel prices and bolster energy independence, and 66 percent said it is important for the federal government to promote the production and sale of flex-fuel vehicles in the United States.

This round of polling also looked at some of the current policy debates and questions facing the industry, and the results are not surprising. The survey showed 60 percent of respondents support the Next Generation Fuels Act, which would drive the use of more efficient, lower-carbon liquid fuels like E25 or E30, compared to just 18 percent who oppose such legislation. And when it comes to electric vehicles, 77 percent of voters say it is important for automakers to disclose (to potential buyers) the emissions impacts of the electricity used to power electric vehicles, and 66 percent oppose policies that would ban the sale of new cars with traditional liquid-fueled engines.

RFA also conducted a round of focus groups in late January, held virtually with consumers in Ohio, Florida and California. These sessions provided a more qualitative assessment and a deeper look into how some people view these matters. While there was some ambivalence or misunderstanding about ethanol at first, a short discussion of ethanol’s benefits quickly led to more support; and we learned, again, that consumers are on our side. Over and over in both the Morning Consult polling and our focus groups, consumers say they want fuel options that are lower in cost, American-made, and better for air quality and carbon emissions. And there is still a lot of concern—even among voters in California—about moving too rapidly toward an all-EV future.

When you’re in the trenches fighting for ethanol every day, it’s easy to get distracted by the negative attacks and myths that continue to be hurled at our industry. But the conclusions we can draw from this public opinion work are clear. Americans strongly support expanded use of lower-cost, lower-carbon renewable fuels like ethanol, want greater access to higher ethanol blends, and strongly oppose policies that remove options at the gas pump or the auto dealership. It’s evident that voters understand and support the environmental advantages, energy security benefits, and affordability that renewable fuels like ethanol offer.

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