Ethanol, Big Oil play close game

The 2016 season is just around the corner and it will almost certainly be a wild season of swings, misses and hits, punctuated by walks, runs and hopefully a few homers, writes Mike Bryan. This column appears in the December issue of EPM.
By Mike Bryan | November 18, 2015

By the time this article is read, the World Series will have been decided and the Super Bowl will be just weeks away. This whole “Big Game” thing got me to thinking about how the ethanol industry would have fared this year had we actually kept score.

I would say it has been a pretty tight game so far. One of the things that really helps our game is that, unlike Big Oil, which has very deep pockets, Ethanol has a very deep bench with thousands of players willing to leave everything on the field and fans that never say die.

The game between Ethanol and Big Oil has always been one of opposing tactics. Big Oil’s game plan is “take no prisoners,” while Ethanol’s is “not taking no for an answer.” So the two teams faced-off again this year, as they have for the last 30 years, each with different ideologies and different end goals, but with the same determination to win.

Ethanol managed to hold off a strong offensive (I use offensive strictly in sporting terms) move by Big Oil that was designed to take us out early in the season. But Ethanol was up to the task and while we were not batting 1,000, we did manage to hold Big Oil to a tie game going into the top of the eighth. 

In the bottom of the eighth, with Land Use on first and RINs on second, Big Oil tried to knock it out of the park by funding a report by the University of Tennessee that discredited Ethanol’s ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It was hit deep into center field but was caught in what could only be described as a brilliant catch by our team in Washington. That ended the inning with what otherwise, could have been a game winning homer.

Ethanol’s coaching this season has been outstanding. Reading Big Oils change-ups, stealing a base or two when we can, and settling for a walk, just to get a man on. The umpiring, on the other hand, has left much to be desired. The EPA, who is supposed to be an impartial plate ump, seems to have continually failed to call Big Oil on balls that were clearly not in the strike zone and more than once called Big Oil safe at home when my grandmother in the stands could have made a better call.

So as we head into the top of the ninth for this 2015 season, it looks like once again Ethanol will have held on to their position as the clean fuel supplier for America’s automotive fleet. But make no mistake, the 2016 season is just around the corner and both teams are preparing for what will almost certainly be a wild season of swings, misses and hits, punctuated by walks, runs and hopefully a few homers.

My only hope is that in 2016 the umpiring is a lot more impartial and the fans come out in even bigger numbers. Spring training is just around the corner and before we know it summer will be upon us. Holy cow, it’s time for a hotdog and a beer.

That’s the way I see it.

Author: Mike Bryan
Chairman, BBI International
mbryan@bbiinternational.com