Delivering the Message on Capital Hill

By Brian Jennings | May 11, 2012

The American Coalition for Ethanol recently organized a grassroots advocacy effort in the nation’s Capitol. ACE sponsors an annual DC fly-in because no one is better qualified to promote the benefits of ethanol than our members—grassroots advocates.

Over the course of two days, 60 members of ACE, the National Corn Growers Association and others from 14 different states met with nearly 200 members of Congress and staff representing 47 states. Thanks to ACE-member Absolute Energy LLC, we distributed packets of No. 2 yellow corn and distillers grains to Congress, showing them that ethanol results in food and fuel. 

Timing is everything, and on the same day the U.S. Senate was debating the future of oil tax subsidies, our members were able to walk into congressional offices and explain how, unlike oil, ethanol isn’t subsidized and still trades for about $1 dollar less than gasoline on a wholesale level. By all reports, ethanol’s ability to save consumers money at the pump, and to do so without help from Uncle Sam (again, unlike oil), was a very convincing talking point that impressed even members of Congress who aren’t strong supporters of ethanol.

Our fly-in isn’t geared toward preaching to the choir, indeed we met with several lawmakers who don’t appreciate or support ethanol. Many of our meetings were with lawmakers who voted against allowing the U.S. EPA to proceed with implementation of E15, allowing USDA to help assist with blender pump installation or the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit. 

With gas prices at their highest level ever for the presummer driving season, Congress is looking for ways to provide some relief at the pump. Our members were able to describe how consumers using E10 are saving on average at least 9.5 cents per gallon compared to regular unleaded, saving around $1 billion dollars per month nationwide and nearly $12 billion dollars a year.

We also educated Congress on the benefits of E15 as a safe and affordable new fuel choice. At today’s prices, consumers choosing E15 could save about 15 cents per gallon compared to regular unleaded. ACE members helped elected officials understand that E15 has undergone more technical scrutiny than any other fuel on the market today, and is an option, not a requirement. 

Most importantly, ACE members made it clear that the renewable fuels standard (RFS) is effectively doing its job at moderating gasoline prices, reducing oil imports and making the U.S. more energy secure. As part of the effort to educate Congress about the RFS, ACE created an ‘infographic’ entitled “It’s Working” providing a vivid depiction of how the RFS and ethanol are reducing oil imports and saving Americans money at the pump. In order to demonstrate broad support for keeping the RFS intact, ACE also wrote and hand delivered to Congress a letter that was cosigned by the Advanced Ethanol Council, National Corn Growers Association, Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, Biotechnology Industry Organization, 25x’25 Alliance, and Energy Future Coalition.

The RFS has played an instrumental role in the build-out of more than 200 U.S. ethanol facilities capable of producing nearly 15 billion gallons of clean, high-octane renewable fuel. The RFS is also an essential catalyst for commercialization of cellulosic and advanced biofuel. Congress should reject attempts to alter, amend or waive it.

Thanks to all the ethanol producers and others who took the time to participate in our fly-in. Thanks to you, we are able to educate members of Congress, build relationships in Capitol Hill, and begin reshaping ethanol policy to ensure long-term success for our members. We are grateful for so many committed grassroots voices in support of the ethanol industry.

Author: Brian Jennings
Executive Vice President,
American Coalition for Ethanol
(605) 334-3381
bjennings@ethanol.org