A Year Makes a Big Difference

In the year 2014, the ethanol industry stepped up to defend the RFS, E15 was offered at new gas stations and three cellulosic ethanol plants began producing ethanol, writes Tom Buis, predicting that 2015 will be just as promising.
By Tom Buis | November 21, 2014

As the year draws to a close, we are presented with an opportunity to look back on our successes and look forward to what lies ahead. 2014 has been a great for the ethanol industry, and 2015 appears to be just as promising. While Washington wraps up its final items and we prepare for the holidays, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on where we are, how we got here and where we want to be.

The renewable fuel standard (RFS)—our nation’s most successful energy policy in the past 40 years—came under heavy attack this year, and our industry rose to its defense time and time again. You also stepped up to the plate, literally, by taking part in our Step Up to the Plate campaign to defend the RFS. Tens of thousands sent letters to policymakers and hundreds flew to Washington, D.C., to attend more than 360 meetings on Capitol Hill and with the administration. We could not be happier to report that with these combined efforts, Congress headed home for the campaign season without making any legislative changes to the RFS.

Our offense was just as good as our defense. E15 made inroads across the nation—from Texas to the Twin Cities—as major players like Mapco, Minnoco, Murphy USA, Protec, Petro Serve USA, Zarco USA and Cenex responded to strong consumer demand for a low-cost, high-performance fuel that improves the environment, creates jobs at home and strengthens our energy and national security. Retail leaders recognized the competitive advantage E15 offers and were eager to give consumers a much-needed choice and savings at the pump. The higher ethanol blend is compatible with the majority of cars on the road, and is also the most tested fuel in history. E15 has withstood 6 million miles of testing by the Department of Energy, more than 6 million by NASCAR and now millions by American motorists.

The momentum we gained over the past year is unstoppable. Stations offering E15 will continue to pop up across the nation as we work to make it a standard offering at the pump. Nationwide, moving to E15 will create another 136,000 American jobs that can’t be outsourced, reduce our demand for foreign oil by 7 billion gallons and reduce greenhouse gas emissions relative to regular gasoline, all while saving consumers between 5 and 15 cents per gallon at the pump. As we reflect on this past year and begin to look forward, installing the infrastructure and creating consumer demand for higher blends such as E15 will be among the industry’s top priorities.

Additionally, three cellulosic ethanol plants began producing next-generation biofuels in the Heartland this year, proving that what some critics called a pipe dream could indeed become a reality. The extensive research and development pioneered by Poet-DSM, Abengoa and Quad County Corn Processors will soon be used across America and throughout the world to convert cellulose, the world’s most abundant organic compound, into energy that will not only fuel our cars, but fuel our future.

When this column was written, the 2014 renewable volume obligations rule had not been finalized; however, we must continue to insist that the U.S. EPA move forward, not backward in meeting the goals of the RFS. It is the right thing to do for America, for jobs, for our environment, for our national security and for consumers. The coming new year is sure to bring new challenges and opportunities, and I am confident that we will meet them all with the ingenuity and resolve that our industry is known for.

I’m looking forward to seeing what our talented, hardworking men and women will achieve next. From all of us at Growth Energy, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season.

Author: Tom Buis
CEO, Growth Energy