Summary of Accomplishments

FROM THE JANUARY ISSUE: American Coalition for Ethanol Executive Vice President Brian Jennings recaps the organization's successes in 2017.
By Brian Jennings | December 15, 2017

Our sights at the American Coalition for Ethanol are set on growing demand in 2018 and beyond. As we ring in the New Year, here is a summary of our accomplishments and progress on priority issues.

More than 1,000 stations in nearly 30 states are offering E15 to their customers. The momentum is real, but we need many more stations to convert in 2018. ACE’s Flex Fuel Forward campaign continues to feature retailers who have “been there, done that” in our paid and earned media, highlighting retailers who are making money selling higher blends to their customers, which, in turn, helps convince other station owners to offer E15. Learn more at www.flexfuelforward.com.

The biggest barrier to nationwide adoption of E15 is the outdated Reid vapor pressure limitation. RVP relief continues to be our top near-term priority. We made progress in 2017, but our Senate champions encountered roadblocks in the Environment and Public Works Committee. In 2018, we will push for enactment of legislation and continue to engage EPA. The fact that Administrator Pruitt is analyzing legal options to address RVP should not be overlooked because, in the past, EPA has simply told us “No.” We are diligently engaged with EPA and Congress to clear this regulatory hurdle.

While we tackle RVP here at home, high-octane ethanol is in high demand around the world. We anticipate setting a new record of 1.3 billion gallons of ethanol exports in 2017 and demand should remain strong in the future. Canada, Brazil, India, Southeast Asia and Mexico will be leading customers, and game-changing opportunities could unfold with Japan and China in 2018 and beyond.

The Renewable Fuel Standard is no stranger to controversy, and 2017 had plenty of battles. Our biggest win was the U.S. Court of Appeals striking down EPA’s use of the general waiver authority to reduce RFS volumes based on the so-called blend wall. In handing down its ruling, the Court ordered EPA to restore a 500 million-gallon shortfall to the 2016 renewable volume obligation. We also prevailed in convincing EPA to reject petitions from merchant refiners to move the RFS point of obligation downstream. For 2018, the good news is that the statutory 15 billion-gallon volume for conventional biofuel will be maintained and that EPA is modestly increasing advanced and total renewable fuel blending obligations.  This should help signal to retailers that it continues to make sense to offer E15 and flex fuels to their customers.  We are disappointed the cellulosic level for 2018 is less than EPA required in 2017.  We firmly believe the capacity is there to justify increasing the cellulosic target.  If we are to strengthen rural America, it is essential to expand the use of ethanol.

ACE believes the best way to grow demand well into the future is to harness the low-carbon, high-octane value of ethanol. That’s why we were very encouraged that for the first time ever, EPA requested information in 2017 on the role high-octane fuel could play in helping achieve vehicle emission and fuel economy standards. Automakers may need to optimize on high-octane fuels to comply with these standards and research indicates the lowest-cost, lowest-carbon, most efficient way to do that is with blends in the neighborhood of 25 to 30 percent ethanol. As EPA determines the trajectory of vehicle emission standards in 2018, we will remain active in communicating the benefits of high-octane fuel in future engines.

In 2018, ACE will also press forward with a constructive discussion about increasing demand for ethanol and improving the sustainability of agriculture production in a manner that maximizes greenhouse gas reductions. We are launching an effort to build consensus around the science related to corn ethanol’s role in reducing carbon emissions. From our perspective, there has been significant and meaningful work done in the past few years to more properly account for the low-carbon benefits of corn ethanol, and now is the time to forge scientific and political consensus on this issue.

Finally, all of these priority issues will be addressed during ACE’s 10th anniversary Washington, D.C., fly-in. Please mark your calendars for March 21 and 22, and plan to join us in this all-important election year.
 

Author: Brian Jennings
Executive Vice President
American Coalition for Ethanol
605.334.3381
bjennings@ethanol.org