Achieve Our Nation’s Energy Independence

By Tom Buis | November 15, 2011

Three years ago, leaders in the domestic ethanol industry gathered to announce the creation of a “new, fresh, aggressive voice in the energy debate”—Growth Energy. From day one, Growth Energy’s mission has been to drive the message of ethanol forward and debunk the myths and distortions fabricated and propagated by those who seek to perpetuate America’s addiction to foreign oil. Since inception, Growth Energy has taken great strides for our nation’s economy, our environment and our national security, but there are still a number of hurdles and challenges to overcome. In the coming years, we will build upon our successes and work to expand greater access to homegrown, renewable ethanol.

Methods to achieve this goal include four main priorities. They are:

Commercialization of E15: Today, the U.S. EPA is working toward implementation of its approval of Growth Energy’s Green Jobs petition for E15. This is one of our industry’s top priorities—expanding the market for ethanol by approving E15 in all cars built in the past decade. A full move to E15 will help our nation meet the goals of the renewable fuels standard (RFS). And by expanding the market for domestic ethanol, E15 can spur private capital investment into the development of ethanol from cellulosic biomass. With cellulosic ethanol, we can turn feedstocks, such as corn stover, citrus waste and even woodchips, into clean, renewable fuel.

Defending the RFS: The RFS was designed to set a goal of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022, with the majority of that being provided by a combination of grain ethanol and cellulosic ethanol. The industry that is taking the greatest strides toward making cellulosic ethanol a commercial reality is the grain ethanol industry itself, in part because it already has access to an abundant source of biomass as feedstock.

Our industry needs to send Congress a clear message: keep the RFS intact. Weakening the RFS goals for cellulosic ethanol would not just block our progress toward a viable cellulosic ethanol industry, but it will put OPEC further in control of our economy. Changing the RFS just four years after enactment sends the wrong signal to those looking to invest in next generation fuels. A continued commitment to our nation’s renewable fuel industry will strengthen our energy security, generate more U.S. jobs that can’t be outsourced and improve our environment.

Opening the fuels market: We in the ethanol industry recognize that the decision of which type of fuel to use should be left to consumers. This means encouraging the installation of flex-fuel pumps, and encouraging the production and sale of flex-fuel vehicles so the consumer can make their fuel choice based on price and performance. An investment in ethanol infrastructure would tear the blend wall down completely and allow ethanol to compete in a fair and open transportation fuels market.

Educating the public about ethanol: Today, there are still thousands of Americans who have yet to hear ethanol’s story. The American Ethanol partnership with NASCAR is a concerted effort by those within the industry to educate consumers about the benefits of ethanol and dispel the misinformation perpetuated by the special interests that don’t want to see ethanol succeed. The effort to market ethanol through NASCAR means tens of millions of TV viewers see our industry in a positive light every race weekend, particularly as every NASCAR racing vehicle is now using Sunoco Green E15 racing fuel. By putting American Ethanol into the victory lane every race weekend, we are proving E15’s effectiveness as a fuel for every American driver.

Securing our energy future will take time, but America has the talent, ability and ingenuity to answer the economic, energy and environmental challenges we face. Growth Energy will continue to work with everyone in the industry to help achieve our nation’s energy independence goals.

Author: Tom Buis
CEO, Growth Energy