The Fight Continues

Thanks to the grassroots advocacy and leadership of American Coalition for Ethanol members, we successfully countered efforts by Big Oil and others in Congress this year to repeal or reduce the renewable fuel standard.
By Brian Jennings | December 26, 2013

Thanks to the grassroots advocacy and leadership of American Coalition for Ethanol members, we successfully countered efforts by Big Oil and others in Congress this year to repeal or reduce the renewable fuel standard (RFS).

But as we set our sights on 2014, we know the fight to increase the use of E15 and E85 and keep the RFS continues. A recent "news" article published by the Associated Press and a proposal by EPA to reduce ethanol use under the RFS next year serve as two examples.

The AP story flies in the face of its own standards against bias and distortions, and shows an incredibly reckless disregard for the truth about ethanol. AP bragged about the number of journalists involved and its connections in all 50 states, and yet that army of reporters missed or ignored a number of errors that could have been easily checked and avoided. From small errors, such as (in early versions of the story) identifying Tom Daschle as a former senator from Iowa rather than South Dakota; to big errors like indicating corn is being grown on “virgin lands” for ethanol production—something that is specifically prohibited by the RFS—or reporting that corn prices were about $7 per bushel all year, the article was clearly less concerned with accuracy than it was maligning ethanol.

It is our job to help the media and policymakers understand that ethanol isn’t some public figure or government program that can be maligned without consequence. Ethanol is a real product, made by real businesses, and those businesses provide thousands of good jobs and billions of gallons of clean, affordable, domestic renewable fuel to real people. When you take the time to show and tell your story about why ethanol is important, you help the entire industry proactively promote a positive image of ethanol.

One of the best ways we can show the RFS is successful is to help ensure more E15 and E85 is sold this year. That’s especially important in light of EPA’s absurd proposal to unnecessarily restrict sales of ethanol-blended fuel in 2014 below 10 percent of gasoline demand. ACE is deeply disappointed in EPA and will try to help the agency come to its senses before the final rule is published. This proposal likely violates the law, would shut down biofuel facilities, put Americans out of work, would crater demand and prices for corn and chase investment in advanced biofuel overseas to our competitors.

A reduction in ethanol use this year would increase pump prices, drain between seven and 12 billion dollars from consumer pocketbooks and transfer billions more to oil company profit statements. What’s more, EPA’s proposal fundamentally betrays the Obama administration’s commitment to clean renewable fuels and caves to Big Oil demands to put a ceiling on ethanol use.

During the comment period, we will need to remind EPA the oil lobby fought to prevent ethanol from comprising even 10 percent of the market when the original RFS was passed by Congress in 2005, and they have rebelled against blending ethanol since the law was expanded in 2007. Their state of denial about higher blends was the reason that the waiver language was one of the final outstanding provisions that oil companies tried to weaken as finishing touches were put on the RFS by Congress. They wanted the opportunity for their cuff-linked attorneys to wordsmith and dodge their way out of compliance when the RFS became a real threat to their continued monopoly on consumer pocketbooks. 

To waive the RFS based on the blend wall rewards oil companies for doing nothing to comply with the inevitability of higher ethanol blends and would take the teeth out of the most consequential policy Congress has enacted to improve the way we produce and use transportation fuel.  

ACE will be working to arm you with data and background with which to make comments, but as importantly, we’re working with other constituencies to ensure we’re getting the attention of EPA and the White House. For example, we’re working with retailers who are selling E15 and E85 and can comment to the administration that they need and want the RFS to work as intended.

ACE will also continue to take steps to develop the E15 and E85 markets, by promoting the price advantages to retailers and consumers, working with you to direct market these blends from your plants and trying to erase liability concerns about E15.

Author: Brian Jennings
Executive Vice President
American Coalition for Ethanol
605-334-3381
bjennings@ethanol.org