An Opportunity to Focus Forward

FROM THE DECEMBER ISSUE: The Renewable Fuels Associations' National Ethanol Conferences promises a look at the future of the ethanol industry.
By Geoff Cooper | November 19, 2019

In October, the Renewable Fuels Association had the privilege of co-hosting the Global Ethanol Summit in Washington, D.C., an event that brought more than 300 foreign visitors to our country, representing over 60 countries. Together, we saw firsthand the opportunity that awaits ethanol not just in the U.S., but around the world.

In my remarks in the final panel session, I commented that, despite the challenges we face, I was fundamentally bullish on the future of ethanol. Perhaps ironically, only a few minutes after the summit ended the afternoon of Oct. 15, we got slapped with another challenge from the U.S. EPA, when it unveiled its supplemental proposal for 2020 renewable volume obligations (RVOs).

It’s not an exaggeration to say that outrage ensued. It was not good news, and no one cheered. President Donald Trump wanted to find a deal that would please both sides, promising in late August a “giant package” that would make farmers happy. Instead, over a month later, his EPA rolled out a plan that accomplished the exact opposite. No one’s happy. Not farmers, not ethanol producers, not even the oil industry.

Despite this, I do remain bullish, because I believe in ethanol. It’s the right fuel at the right time—and for the time to come. It’s the low-carbon, low-cost fuel America and the world need now. As long as we remain committed to the future of our industry, and approach it strategically, we will succeed regardless of EPA shenanigans. We can and will make a difference because we have the right product. For this reason, we must keep looking ahead to what we can accomplish.

This coming February, RFA will hold our 25th annual National Ethanol Conference. Centered around the theme “Focus Forward,” the meeting will provide attendees the opportunity to look ahead to what the next quarter-century will bring for the U.S. ethanol industry—and we will be doing it from Houston, often touted as the “energy capital” of the world, home to the headquarters of more than 500 oil and gas exploration and production firms.

Houston is the best possible venue for our conference as we continue to focus on ethanol’s future in the energy marketplace, and we will take full advantage of this in our programming.

Approaching the quarter-century mark, the NEC remains the nation’s most widely attended executive-level conference for the ethanol industry, and it’s a landmark event you won’t want to miss. At the 2019 event in Orlando, we welcomed nearly 1,000 industry leaders representing 38 states and the District of Columbia. A strong international presence was also felt, with attendees from over a dozen countries. Next year, RFA looks forward to offering attendees robust discussions around new uses and technologies, policy and politics, the market outlook, and the vision for high-octane, low-carbon fuels.
As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the National Ethanol Conference and look at the events of the day, the “Focus Forward” theme seems perfect. As much as we may feel ethanol and other renewable fuels are under siege by some, even in our federal government, they offer the world something special at a time so many are concerned about climate change: a high-octane, low-carbon liquid fuel solution that’s available right now. 

New this year at the NEC is a group discount. For every 10 people from your company who register to attend NEC, you are eligible for a complimentary registration. You also can save money by registering as soon as possible. The early bird rate expires Nov. 22, and another discount tier, the advance rate, ends Jan. 21. Details are on the website at

We can guarantee this event will be time well spent for you and your colleagues, and we hope that by focusing forward, we can advance the U.S. ethanol industry more easily through the challenges it faces today, no matter their source.

Author: Geoff Cooper
President and CEO
Renewable Fuels Association