Growth Energy, a coalition of U.S. ethanol supporters, met on Capitol Hill this week to counter mounting attacks made by the oil industry to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard. Several bills are being introduced this week that would either repeal or weaken government’s mandate of requiring gasoline producers to blend 10% of ethanol into supplies of gasoline.
In a press call this week, Growth Energy’s outlined their key talking points in support of the RFS and to advocate for E15, a gasoline blend comprised of 15 percent ethanol.
“Obviously, the Renewable Fuels Standard is important for our industry, and it has come under some intense attacks based on misinformation on breaking the blend wall and moving forward to higher blends,” says Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis in a press call this week. He references opponents’ claims that the RFS increases fuel prices and eats up the nation’s corn supplies, resulting in higher food and feed.
Jeff Broin, co-chair of Growth Energy and executive chair of ethanol company Poet, countered those claims by saying ethanol is a domestic, renewable product that creates jobs, is cheaper than gas and is much better for the environment.
“Ethanol is now responsible for 400,000 direct and indirect jobs, and we can create another 136,000 if we can move to E15,” Broin says. “Ethanol now accounts for fifty million dollars of GDP, and we saved consumers about eight billion dollars at the pump. Ethanol is more than 50 cents a gallon cheaper than gas and it is revitalizing the rural economy, helping the U.S. economy as a whole.”
Broin emphasized the need to increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline, currently at 10%, to make the production of ethanol more affordable.
“Unfortunately oil industry has done everything they can to prevent consumer access to E15,” Broin says. “They have done thing like erecting regulatory and legal challenges to an extensive PR campaign of misinformation. While we are slowly succeeding, Big Oil is now trying to throw a “hail Mary” by getting congress to pass legislation that would repeal the standard, denying American consumers access to less expensive, renewable fuel, which is ethanol.”
Also on the press call was General Wesley Clark, co-chair of Growth Energy and former army general, who said the production of gas is a national security issue. “I spent my life in the armed forces and worked in national security, and I’ve discovered that the economy is just as important if not more important than our armed forces in giving us a free and secure country. And with the help of agriculture sector, we are moving toward energy independence.”
Clark continues: “What’s new is that we are getting an attack a day by Big Oil and their allies. And this bill is a desperation move, as Jeff said, a “hail mary,” to try to repeal the renewable fuels standard.”
Growth Energy members meet with lawmakers this week. Growth Energy’s Tom Buis says the timetable for change is up to congress.
“As hard as we might try, we don’t dictate their schedule,” Buis says. “But we think this year is a critical for getting over that blend wall. We are optimistic that we will see higher blends and greater quantity later this year and next.”