An Industry on the Offensive

By Tom Bryan | November 05, 2012

Ethanol Producer Magazine wraps each year with the views and forecasts of those who produce, sell, defend and think about ethanol full-time. We’ve done it again in this issue, collecting the year-end contemplations of industry leaders from Texas to Toronto.    

This issue of EPM is being distributed at the 9th annual Canadian Renewable Fuels Summit in Ottawa. Fittingly, we’ve included a profile of the Toronto-based Global Renewable Fuels Alliance, which indirectly represents 65 percent of the world’s biofuels production. Turning their young organization into a sort of hip Interpol of global biofuels messaging, the GRFA’s Bliss Baker and Giancarlo Drennen monitor and respond to international headlines daily to help association leaders from the U.S., Canada, Europe and South America counter a seemingly endless stream of biofuels misinformation. As we discover in this month’s page-32 feature, “Defending Biofuels on a Global Stage,” Baker and Drennen are making a real difference, effectively quieting the OECD and the World Bank on ethanol over the past few years. The story reminds us that the world’s various biofuels associations, despite differences over trade policy, can and do work together.

Back in the U.S., industry leaders are entering 2013 with a collective focus on overcoming the barriers of E15 implementation, drawing down the costs of cellulosic ethanol and, above all, protecting the RFS. As Jeff Roskam, CEO of the Kansas Alliance for Biorefining and Bioenergy, points out in this month’s page-39 cover story, “Perspectives on 2013,” losing or modifying the RFS would renew the petroleum industry’s monopoly on U.S. transportation fuels. That real and present danger has Brooke Coleman on the offensive, defending advanced biofuels blending targets even before they are attacked. In our page-49 Q&A, “Defending Tomorrow’s Ethanol Today,” the Advanced Ethanol Council executive director says, “If the oil industry has no problem compartmentalizing everyday business propositions and the territorial realities of protecting and expanding market share, neither should we.”

In the aftermath of the election, Poet CEO Jeff Lautt and others featured in this month’s issue are sticking with the industry’s proven talking points. Lautt says it’s a priority to impress upon the new Congress what biofuels means for farm income, gas prices and the overall economy. In response to the 2012 drought, Neil McKinstray, president of The Andersons Ethanol Group and current chairman of the Renewable Fuels Association, offers an “adjust and deal with it” attitude. He tells us there is nothing the industry can do to expand the supply of corn in 2013 following the worst U.S. drought in 56 years. Acknowledging that some plants will, and have, shut down, McKinstray reminds us that other facilities are running at full throttle and gaining new efficiencies. While some of those plants may not be making much right now, “they did a few years ago and they will have a war chest,” McKinstray says, before pragmatically adding, “others may simply be trying to survive.”    

Tom Bryan, PRESIDENT & EDITOR IN CHIEF
tbryan@bbiinternational.com