ACE Conference Highlights Industry Advocates

By Brian Jennings | October 11, 2013

The American Coalition for Ethanol recently hosted a successful ethanol conference in Des Moines, Iowa.

Our conference, developed with input from ACE members, focused on policy, innovation, marketing, and profitability. We discussed how to win the renewable fuel standard (RFS) battle, efforts to increase the use of E15 and E85, and technology innovations being developed to improve profitability in the industry. With an eye toward the future, we also had a top U.S. automaker discuss the role ethanol’s octane can play in advanced engine technologies.

But what I enjoyed most about the conference is that we recognized several ACE members for the proactive steps they are taking to advance and promote ethanol.  

We put the spotlight on people who don’t seek or desire the attention, but deserve it for their leadership. For example, Ron Alverson with Dakota Ethanol, who is our board president, is passionate about the fact that corn ethanol does much more to reduce lifecycle greenhouse gases than what it gets credit for. Ron is pioneering an effort to help regulators appreciate the beneficial role ethanol can play in reducing carbon emissions.  We highlighted Delayne Johnson and Travis Brotherson of Quad County Corn Processors who developed a technology breakthrough in their research laboratory to convert corn kernel fiber into cellulosic ethanol, an innovation that is being commercialized at their plant today.

When it comes to our effort to win the RFS battle, some ACE members stand out as leaders who have gone above and beyond the advocacy call-of-duty. For example, Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co. is the first that comes to my mind. CVEC has sent more people to the ACE fly-in over the years and been more actively supportive of advocacy efforts than any other ethanol plant I can think of; they are making a positive difference. At the other end of the country, Pinal Energy has been proactive about communicating the benefits of the RFS to the Arizona congressional delegation.

Many ACE members have taken the initiative to help overcome the blend wall and increase market access for ethanol. Glacial Lakes Energy has been promoting E30 and E85 for years, and recently began hosting Flex Fuel Fridays in their area to increase sales of higher ethanol blends. Little Sioux Corn Processors and Siouxland Ethanol have both helped retailers in their area install blender pumps to sell higher blends.

Other ACE members stand out as leaders for being proactive with the media or for engaging and educating the public. Ace Ethanol, Adkins Energy, Big River Resources, KAAPA Ethanol and Mid-Missouri Energy have all taken the initiative to educate the media about the benefits of ethanol. Dave Sovereign and other leaders at Golden Grain Energy, Homeland Energy Solutions, Absolute Energy and Big River Resources launched the Biofuels Mobile Education Center a few years ago. And Gene and Kathy Griffith and their team at Patriot Renewable Fuels have become particularly effective at raising awareness about the benefits of ethanol on social media.

While we didn’t have enough time at our conference to spotlight the efforts of every member, we singled out these leaders to remind everyone that the sharpest minds and most effective advocates of the industry are the hard-working men and women represented by the ACE grassroots network.

We’re going to win the RFS battle in Washington this year, not because we’ll spend more money than oil companies, but because our members’ advocacy has made a positive difference on Capitol Hill. That’s how we enacted the RFS in the first place, and that’s how we’ll keep it intact in Congress. Consider the fact that RFS repeal is off the table and momentum is stalling on opponents’ so-called reform efforts.

Make no mistake, changes will be made to the RFS, but those changes will be made by the U.S. EPA, not Congress. Oil companies are asking EPA to reduce the RFS below 10 percent of gasoline demand and EPA has said it’s likely to reduce the advanced and total levels for 2014, so we’ll remain engaged with EPA to ensure these decisions are thoughtful and informed.

The truth is change doesn’t come from Washington. Change comes to Washington thanks to the advocacy of people who belong to groups like ACE. Thank you for your leadership and support.

Author: Brian Jennings
Executive Vice President
American Coalition for Ethanol