Armed with the Facts

FROM THE APRIL ISSUE: RFA releases new studies, information at NEC.
By Geoff Cooper | March 19, 2019

Since our founding in 1981, one of the hallmarks of the Renewable Fuels Association has always been the development of sound science, analysis and data to support our industry’s advocacy efforts.Reports, studies and analyses prepared by RFA’s technical staff and a diverse array of third-party experts have always served as the factual foundation supporting our mission to grow the market for U.S.-produced renewable fuels.

This strength was on full display at this year’s National Ethanol Conference in February, where three important new industry resources were released.

First, RFA released a new analysis conducted by ABF Economics that found that the U.S. ethanol industry makes “a significant contribution” to the U.S. economy. Just how significant?

According to the analysis, which is conducted annually and used by ethanol advocates across the country, the production and use of 16.1 billion gallons of ethanol in 2018:

• Supported more than 71,000 direct jobs and almost 295,000 indirect and induced jobs across all sectors of the economy.

• Added nearly $25 billion in income for American households.

• Generated an estimated $4.8 billion in tax revenue to the Federal Treasury and $4 billion in revenue to state and local governments.

• Displaced an amount of gasoline refined from roughly 550 million barrels of imported crude oil, keeping $36 billion in the U.S. economy.

Second, every NEC attendee received RFA’s 2019 annual Industry Outlook publication, which is chock-full of facts and figures about the industry and summarizes current events and developments. Critics continue to churn out the same outrageous falsehoods about ethanol’s environmental performance, impacts on food and feed costs, and other myths. But the annual outlook, now in its 19th year, provides supporters, lawmakers, the media and the general public updated factual information on a host of issues.

For example, biofuel critics frequently cite the “food vs. fuel” canard, but that continues to be debunked. Last year, U.S. farmers harvested the second-largest corn crop ever, and retail food price inflation rates continued to be subdued. Annual average food price inflation has averaged just 2.2 percent since 2005 when the Renewable Fuel Standard was enacted, a significant deceleration from previous decades. Due to the remarkable productivity of farmers in the U.S. and globally, increased use of grain for ethanol has had no detectable impact on retail food prices, while at the same time helping to curtail gas prices.

Finally, the NEC saw the release of a new study by Life Cycle Associates that highlighted the tremendous contributions of the RFS toward reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In fact, the study found that, to date, the RFS has outperformed the U.S. EPA’s original expectations regarding GHG reduction, even though cellulosic biofuel production has fallen short of Congress’ original goals.

The study found that the RFS2 has reduced GHG emissions by nearly 600 million metric tons since 2008, far surpassing EPA’s original expectations of 422 million metric tons through 2022. The greater-than-expected reductions are a result of the rapid adoption of new technologies that quickly reduced the carbon intensity of grain-based ethanol and other biofuels.

As surely as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, we know renewable fuel opponents will continue to attach myths, misinformation and outright lies to our industry. However, armed with facts provided by RFA, we can effectively counter misinformation and truly educate policymakers and consumers about the significant benefits of clean, low-cost, high-quality ethanol.

Author: Geoff Cooper
President and CEO
Renewable Fuels Association