Answering the Call

By Tom Buis | April 18, 2011

In a landmark address laying out his proposal to end our nation’s reliance on foreign energy, President Obama called for an increase in the production of American ethanol. In his speech, delivered at Georgetown University in March, the president rightly identified ethanol as a way to set our country on a path toward a clean energy future.

The president deserves credit for identifying American agriculture’s role in the production of corn ethanol today and commercially viable cellulosic ethanol in the future. Today, America’s grain ethanol producers are leading the way toward ethanol that can be derived from a variety of biomass feedstocks.

If there is one word that describes the ethanol industry it is innovation. To meet the challenges and opportunities outlined by the president, we must expand our ingenuity to give American consumers the choice between clean and affordable ethanol, and fossil fuels, like gasoline, that are getting dirtier, riskier and costlier to extract. Today’s ethanol plants are using cutting-edge innovation to reduce water use and increase energy efficiencies.

By doing so, the ethanol industry can reduce harmful emissions while providing a near-term solution to high gas prices by lowering costs at the gas pump and participating in our nation’s long-term energy strategy.

The president’s plan includes proposals to reduce market barriers to increased biofuel use—goals Growth Energy has long championed and are a key part of our efforts to give motorists access to an alternative to foreign oil.
Increasing the number of flex-fuel pumps at gas stations and flex-fuel vehicles on the road will give consumers an opportunity to choose their fuel—instead of having that choice made for them.

By removing the barriers that prevent access to renewable energy produced right here in America, we can replace more of the oil we import from the Middle East, lower fuel prices and keep more dollars in the pockets of everyday Americans.

A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in conjunction with McKinsey & Co., shows that ethanol keeps U.S. retail gasoline prices about 17 cents per gallon lower. That provides annual savings of $115 per driver.

Increasing the production of domestic, renewable ethanol also reduces the power that foreign nations can exert over our economy. Every gallon of clean burning ethanol that we produce in this country decreases the demand for foreign oil and strengthens our national security.

Securing our energy future will take careful thought and patience as we craft the policies we need in Washington, D.C. In the meantime, our nation’s ethanol industry demonstrates every day that this country has the talent, ability and ingenuity to answer the economic, energy and environmental challenges we face. America’s ethanol producers are ready to help lead the way.

Author: Tom Buis
CEO, Growth Energy
(202)545-4000
tbuis@growthenergy.org