12 Years of Global Leadership on Clean, Affordable Fuels

FROM THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE: Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor looks back 12 years to when the Renewable Fuel Standard was enacted.
By Emily Skor | August 22, 2017

Twelve years ago, the Renewable Fuel Standard was enacted, launching an American success story that has continued today. I have been fortunate in my time as Growth Energy CEO to celebrate many significant milestones with our members, from 10-year anniversaries to 500 million- and 1 billion-gallon production landmarks. By passing the RFS in 2005, Congress set the stage for this country to benefit from American-made biofuels.

Ethanol is now blended into 97 percent of all gasoline sold in the U.S. By using more ethanol, we’ve added jobs and grown our economy. In 2005, the ethanol industry supported around 150,000 jobs and contributed less than $18 billion in economic output. By 2016, our industry supported more than 339,000 jobs and added more than $41 billion in economic activity. 

The RFS also has helped drivers across the country save money at the pump by creating options and increasing competition. By protecting drivers from market manipulation and global spikes in the price of oil, ethanol has saved consumers anywhere from $0.50 to $1.50 per gallon. But ethanol doesn’t just save people money—it’s the smart choice for their engines. Its naturally high-octane rating delivers power and performance while also burning cleaner and cooler. 

Drivers have certainly noticed the benefits, and are taking advantage of higher ethanol blends such as E15. Earlier this year, American drivers surpassed 1 billion miles driven on E15. Because of this demand, E15 is now available in 29 states at more than 900 retail locations. We are proud to work with a group of leading retailers who are providing customers with this 21st century fueling option, including Casey’s, Cenex, Family Express, Kum & Go, Kwik Trip, MAPCO, Minnoco, Murphy USA, Protec Fuels, QuikTrip, RaceTrac, Sheetz and Thorntons.

Higher ethanol blends present a great opportunity for these retailers who want to offer their loyal customers the best possible options. For example, E15 allows retailers to offer a fuel that cuts carbon emissions and has a higher octane content than regular unleaded gasoline, all while being less expensive. In short, it adds an extremely competitive fuel option to the station’s offering, which is a win for them and their customers.

The growing availability and adoption of higher blends—by both retailers and consumers—is the clearest sign we have of the progress that has been made under the RFS in the past 12 years. In that time, we have seen that the RFS is the nation’s most successful energy policy. That success should be celebrated, but I know the ethanol industry, Growth Energy and our dedicated members will not merely pat ourselves on the back. Why? Because the future is even brighter—we will strive for more.

Innovation and technological developments are making biofuels even greener and more efficient than they already are, both for first-generation and advanced biofuels. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory has found that advanced biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol, can cut carbon emissions by as much as 100 percent. As cellulosic production ramps up, we have an opportunity for more biofuel gallons to meet the growing demand for higher ethanol blends. This industry is truly driving positive, meaningful change in the U.S. We are fueling people from points A to Z and to everywhere in between, and we’re doing it with an engine-smart, Earth-kind fuel.

The RFS is a bipartisan policy that has worked as intended. It has made us more energy independent, grown our economy and allowed for the use of more environmentally friendly, American-made biofuels. With continued support, the benefits will only expand in scope and impact.

Leaders in Congress should continue to support this successful policy and build on these gains, allowing consumers to use higher ethanol blends such as E15 all year long. The past 12 years show just what’s possible when America’s biofuel industry is given a chance to prosper.

So, while I am tremendously excited by all that has been accomplished in the past dozen years, I am even more excited to see what’s possible in the years to come. If the past is any indicator, a cleaner, greener world awaits us.

Author: Emily Skor
CEO, Growth Energy