Telling Our Story in DC

The American Coalition for Ethanol gives voice to its members through its Power by People campaign and events like the annual D.C. fly-in, writes its executive vice president in his Grassroots Voice column for the March issue of EPM.
By Brian Jennings | February 13, 2017

Within the first 100 days of the Trump presidency, members and other supporters from all walks of life will join the American Coalition for Ethanol in Washington, D.C., for our annual grassroots fly-in, March 22-23. Participation in this event is critically important because members of Congress will hold committee hearings this year about the future of the renewable fuel standard (RFS), and a new administration is willing to work with us on regulatory reform for higher blends of ethanol.

During the fly-in, we are going to leverage the pivotal role that rural voters played in the election outcome and capitalize on that grassroots clout to help President Trump keep the promises he made during the campaign about keeping the RFS on track and removing restrictions on the use of E15 and higher blends of ethanol. We will emphasize how unleashing the ethanol industry to produce affordable and high-octane fuel for consumers nationwide will help restore some economic prosperity to key areas of the country that are suffering today.

But before our fly-in, we have been busy providing the Trump cabinet and key administration officials with our list of priorities to address, including issues such as the RFS, Reid vapor pressure relief, the need to raise the minimum octane of gasoline, ensuring our trading partners play by the rules, updating the carbon intensity analysis for corn ethanol and correcting the MOVES (Mobile Vehicle Emissions Simulator) model.

ACE members have also engaged the Senate as it has carried out its constitutional role to confirm new cabinet officials. While there is a school of thought that Scott Pruitt and Rick Perry will suddenly embrace ethanol as they take the reins of the U.S. EPA and DOE because their boss, Trump, supports our industry, you don’t need a long memory to recall that Barack Obama also supported ethanol during his campaign for president. In spite of this, Obama’s EPA administrator took the RFS off-track and refused to grant RVP relief to E15. Instead of hoping that Pruitt and Perry will have a change of heart, ACE has worked closely with key Republican allies in the Senate to “trust, but verify” that they will help keep the promises made by Trump during the campaign. Several ACE members responded to our call-to-action urging senators to ask tough questions of Pruitt who will lead EPA. As a result, several senators got Pruitt to go on the record that he would follow the law when it comes to EPA’s implementation of the RFS. We expect to meet with Pruitt and other administration leaders about our priority issues during the fly-in later this month.

In the same way “Make America Great Again” was the slogan for the Trump campaign, “Power by People” has been ACE’s brand, a motto which highlights that people are what makes ethanol great.  The ethanol industry really began as a grassroots effort of neighbors helping each other at a time of economic crisis.  While our industry is about dollars and cents, it is first and foremost about people—a profile in courage about ordinary people who committed their own money and time to help their families, neighbors and communities by building locally owned businesses in their towns.  Jobs were created and profits stayed at home.  Along the way, those farmers, small town businesses and rural citizens ended up developing the most successful renewable energy platform in the world, generating billions of dollars in economic activity and saving consumers billions of dollars at the pump.

As in past years, Big Oil and other opponents will try to create an alternative reality about ethanol use in engines and complain about the RFS and RIN prices. But ACE members are uniquely positioned to combat that with their authentic voices and stories about why ethanol shouldn’t merely be measured by the barrels of foreign oil it displaces, it should also be valued based on the jobs it creates and human good it delivers to people of all walks of life. We look forward to helping you show and tell that story this year.

Author: Brian Jennings
Executive Vice President
American Coalition for Ethanol