Posted By Cathryn May 15, 2013
It may be trite to define a commonly used term as a lead in to a larger story, but it seems a Texas lawmaker has completely forgotten what the word “renewable” means.
U.S. Representative Pete Oleson (R-TX) wants to rewrite what qualifies as a biofuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard to include ethanol made from natural gas. Maybe Rep. Oleson was confused by the word natural or maybe his support for the state’s oil industry blinds him, but natural gas, a coproduct formed with petroleum, does not qualify because, intrinsically, it is not renewable.
Congress created the RFS to reduce our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels. While they certainly did so to cut pollution, they also wanted to shift our nation’s energy future away from an addiction to a finite resource. As an oil coproduct, natural gas also qualifies as a fossil fuel. The supply of natural gas however, while more abundant than the oil supply, still is finite.
The oil industry’s stranglehold on America’s energy supply should not be tightened by redefining the word renewable. It shouldn’t be tightened at all.
Common sense prevailed when lawmakers crafted the RFS. They had the foresight and wherewithal to create a way to break free from fossil fuels. They created a way to build the greener, more sustainable energy future that renewable biofuels can provide. Today’s lawmakers should exercise the same integrity and deny big oil a backdoor win.
Redefining renewable biofuels will not magically make oil wells that never run dry. A renewable future needs a renewable feedstock. It needs corn.
Posted By Cathryn April 17, 2013
Fuels America launched a campaign to set the record straight on the real way to lower prices at the pump yesterday, releasing both a video and an op-ed that ran in Beltway must-read Politico. Using facts to combat the anti-ethanol hype being used in the current assault on the RFS, the multi-pronged push to provide real information is making a splash in the media and with those engaged in the online energy dialogue.
The video, “The Truth Behind High Gas Prices in 60 Seconds”, explains that:
“We can’t drill our way to cheaper gas, but we can get lower gas prices – by stopping the oil industry’s monopoly. First step? We need to fight for other options – like renewable fuel. Watch our video to learn the truth behind the price we pay for gas.”
To watch the video, click here.
In an op-ed published in Politico, Growth Energy CEO Tom Bius and Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen looked at volatility in the RINs market, a cause of concern for many on the Hill as of late.
“The story here is simple. Opponents of renewable fuel, led by the oil industry, want to convince Capitol Hill that renewable identification numbers, or RINs, are the harbingers of doom for U.S. gas prices. Three facts every member of Congress should know about RINs: They are free, they are primarily traded by oil refiners to oil refiners, and they were created at the oil companies’ insistence. Early this year, the price of RINs rose dramatically, but since oil companies dominate the RINs market — and since ethanol supplies are increasing — we are hard-pressed to see a reason for that spike in prices.”
To read the editorial in opinion piece in Politico, click here.
Today, a second op-ed by Bius and Dinneen ran in Roll Call. Here, they called for the confirmation of Gina McCarthy as EPA administrator and Eric Munoz as secretary of Energy as these confirmations would help continue the successes already achieved by biofuels under the RFS.
“We’ve done our part: Foreign oil imports are down 10 percent. We’ve added $40 billion to America’s gross domestic product. We’re offering blends from E15 to E85 in some parts of the country. But, as energy analyst Daniel Dicker says, ‘[Oil] refiners don’t make ethanol, so they’re not really all that happy about making E15. What they want to do is make gasoline because that’s what they make money off of.’”
To read the editorial in opinion piece in Roll Call, click here.
The push to get the truth about America’s renewable, environmentally conscious energy source out is growing. To become part of this positive change, click here.
Posted By Cathryn April 16, 2013
Without question, most Americans have probably wondered at one point or another where some members of the U.S. House of Representatives get their information. Prone to tossing about wildly inaccurate blanket statements, a segment of politicians aiming to bring down the Renewable Fuel Standard and our nation’s energy security are playing fast and loose with the truth.
And it seems like no one is watching.
Just today, CNN Money released a story about how the price for many consumer goods fell. Based upon information released by the Labor Department on changes during March to the Consumer Price Index, the story explained that one major factor contributing to the decreased CPI was a drop in food prices at the grocery store.
“Prices on whole milk, potatoes, lettuce and pork chops all declined during the month,” the article stated. “But food prices at restaurants and cafeterias rose slightly.”
Yet, only days ago, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) introduced legislation that would remove corn-based ethanol from the federal Renewable Fuels Standard in 2014. Calling the RFS an “unworkable federal policy”, Goodlatte even noted that he plans to introduce legislation which would eliminate the RFS entirely.
How do the bill’s supporters justify this attack?
Fellow sponsor Jim Costa (D-Calif.) explained, “We can’t afford to keep putting food in our fuel tanks. It’s no longer just about agriculture or energy. It’s about putting food on our families’ tables.”
With food prices at the grocery story, presumably the most common place to purchase affordable food for our families’ tables, actually falling and a lower percentage of our income going to food than any other developed nation, how does this justification make sense?
Simply, no one is taking time to connect the dots.
Allegations are thrown out and accepted as fact without any real evaluation. Looking at the news in its totality instead of as a series of unconnected sound bites shows the inherent fallacies in basis upon which these legislators are putting forth a bill that would have a massive impact on our nation’s energy supply.
An attack on the RFS is an attack on legislation that has successfully decreased our dependence on foreign oil while moving our nation toward a renewable, more environmentally friendly fuel. Make no mistake, a step in this direction will have consequences that every American feels in one way or another. Whether it is by paying more at the pump next year or by breathing in more harmful pollutants, handing back the gains made through the RFS will harm American families.
Good policy may be complex. It may not make a snappy sound bite. It is what Americans must protect to ensure a better future for their families.
Posted By Cathryn March 27, 2013
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad publicly made the case for the Renewable Fuel Standard and for introducing higher ethanol blends into the market in an eloquently penned opinion piece that ran in the Washington-centric publication Politico. Citing examples of how biofuels have benefited his state and looking toward the future of the industry, Branstad issued this appeal to logic at a time when important biofuels policies face an increasing number of attacks.
In the piece, Branstad not only points to the successes seen in Iowa economically from ethanol production, but he also directly speaks to often-repeated concerns over the impact that higher ethanol blends have on auto engines.
“Cars run well on higher blends of renewable fuel,” he explained. “Iowa’s state trooper fleet runs on E85. Ethanol is higher octane and thus a more powerful fuel. That extra octane provides an advantage to our law enforcement ranks and the high-performing vehicles they rely on daily.”
Branstad’s appeal for a steady hand in guiding the way into an American future that sees the full benefits of biofuels calls upon readers to think through the issues at hand and realize the importance of both the RFS and higher ethanol blends.
“We must not forget that most successful industries and innovations do not mature overnight. Cellphones were around since the 1970s but not widely adopted until the 2000s. And automobiles did not replace horse-drawn carriages in just a few years,” he concluded. “The RFS has been a key driver in this industry’s progress. We should not, and cannot, turn back that progress now.”
To read the piece in its entirety, click here.
Posted By Cindy February 20, 2013
It’s been called alcohol, gasohol, and ethanol, among other names – but could a different moniker help improve the image of plant-based fuel?
The founder of a widely respected public opinion research firm suggests that calling ethanol a “biofuel” more often might be better.
“Biofuel is seen as a more futuristic energy source than saying the word ethanol,” American Viewpoint president Linda DiVall said. “There are very positive images associated with biofuels.”
DiVall presented findings from a poll on consumer views of ethanol commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) at the National Ethanol Conference last week. “The ethanol industry has a compelling narrative to advance to consumers — it significantly reduces greenhouse gases, lowers our dependence on foreign oil, creates quality jobs, reduces fuel costs for Americans, and is serving to advance further innovations in renewable fuels.”
Listen to DiVall explain in this interview: Linda DiVall at NEC 2013
Posted By Cindy February 12, 2013
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hit two meetings in one city last week, appearing at both the National Ethanol Conference and the National Biodiesel Conference in Las Vegas and serving as the biofuels industry cheerleader to rally the troops in an uncertain time.
“A critical component to the success of rural America is in the renewable fuel and energy industry,” Vilsack said. “You are responsible for increasing farm income.”
The secretary acknowledged that the Renewable Fuel Standard is under attack. “You have to ask yourself, why all these challenges?” Vilsack asked. “The reason is that you are winning.”
Vilsack told both groups that the renewable fuels industry is worth fighting for. “Your country’s future depends on it,” he said. “It’s that important. That’s why I’m here – I firmly believe it.”
Watch the Secretary’s address at the NEC below:
Video streaming by Ustream
Listen to his speech to the ethanol conference here: Vilsack at NEC
2013 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album
Posted By Cindy December 3, 2012
The waiver didn’t work, so now opponents of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) are using every other tactics in the book to try and get the standard reformed or repealed.
Last week, the American Petroleum Institute held a press conference calling for the elimination of the RFS. “We believe the Renewable Fuels Standard is unworkable and should be repealed,” said API Downstream Group Director Robert Greco. “There is a fundamental flaw in the enabling statute so the only way to fix it is to scrap the law and start over if Congress believes such a program is necessary.
In a one-two punch, the National Council of Chain Restaurants then released a new report on the impact of the RFS on food prices and small business which concluded that “the RFS mandate could cost chain restaurants up to $3.2 billion annually, with quick-service restaurants witnessing cost increases upward of $2.5 billion, and full-service restaurants seeing increases upward of $691 million.”
Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) hopes the study will get him support in Congress for his “The Renewable Fuels Elimination Act” HR3098. “This is a bipartisan effort,” Goodlatte said, noting that a letter to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson encouraging a waiver of the RFS was signed by 156 members of the House. “That group provides a basis for moving forward with legislation that would do what unfortunately she chose not to do.”
Listen to Goodlatte’s comments here: Congressman Bob Goodlatte
The fast food chain study was quickly debunked by corn farmers and ethanol producers. “They lost in their bid for a waiver of the RFS, so now they are resorting to super-sized myths about the impact of the RFS on food prices. Every reasonable analysis of the factors influencing food prices has concluded that the cost of diesel fuel, gasoline, and other energy inputs is the major driver,” said Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen, who calls the study more of a “book report” that cherry-picks results from other studies that support their analysis.
Listen to an interview with Dinneen: RFA president Bob Dinneen
National Corn Growers Association president Pam Johnson notes that the NCCR study looks at only two possible scenarios regarding the economic impact of the RFS. “When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its look at the RFS earlier this month, its researchers looked at 500 scenarios and made the right decision to reject an unnecessary waiver request,” said Johnson. Of those 500 scenarios, EPA found 445 of them showed ‘no impacts from the RFS program at all’ when it comes to corn, food and fuel prices.
“Further, the study falsely states that more corn goes into ethanol than other uses. Its reliance on the general USDA categories without diving deeper ignored the fact that nearly twice as much corn is used for livestock feed than for ethanol,” Johnson added.
There are other flaws in the study but that will not stop the RFS opponents from pressing forward with the goal of eliminating a program that has been successful in diversifying the nation’s fuel supply. “They are pulling out all the stops,” Dinneen says, which means that the industry must do all it can do to get accurate information out to lawmakers, regulators and the general public.
Posted By Cathryn November 21, 2012
Today’s post originally ran on the Fuels America blog. Fuels America, of which the National Corn Growers Association is a founding member, is a coalition of organizations committed to protecting America’s Renewable Fuel Standard and promoting the benefits of all types of renewable fuel already growing in America. Fuels America is founded on a simple core principle: Renewable fuel is good for the U.S. economy, for our nation’s energy security and for the environment.
Some special interests are claiming that renewable fuel is raising the cost of your Thanksgiving turkey. The fact is that turkey prices are lower this year than they were in October of last year. Renewable fuel does not dictate the price of a turkey and it does not dictate the price of your food.
Despite a decrease in the price of a turkey, food prices on the whole have gone up. But that is a result of rising oil prices, which have skyrocketed since 2005.
The oil sector, threatened by increasing fuel diversity, is trying to mislead consumers to turn back the clock on our progress in creating alternatives to oil.
Let’s take a closer look. Corn makes up 3 cents of every dollar spent on food at the grocery store. The rest comes from things like transportation, marketing, labor and packaging. Those Super Bowl commercials advertising for your favorite snack aren’t cheap. And paying for the petroleum to transport food inputs isn’t cheap either. Costs like those—costs that have nothing to do with the crops that go into your food—make up $.84 of each food dollar you spend at the market. As oil prices fluctuate, food prices follow because petroleum is a large input into food prices. Corn is not.
The EPA set out to discover the true impact of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) on corn prices. And they found that the RFS has not had a significant impact on corn prices. In a study that included 500 scenarios, in nearly every case, EPA concluded that waiving the RFS for a year had no impact on corn prices.
Self-interested players are twisting the facts try to kill an industry that is creating American jobs, increasing our energy security and delivering alternatives to oil. Thanks to the EPA analyses, and a cornucopia of other data showing the reality that the RFS is working, we no longer need to eat the false choice between food and fuel.
For more information on Fuels America, click here.
Posted By Cathryn November 6, 2012
This election day, a substantial majority of Americans believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction. Only five days ago, Rasmussen Reports found that only 39 percent of voters believe the country is actually on the right track. The negativity that has descended over the country hangs like a nearly palpable dark cloud, shading perceptions and obscuring the view of the horizon.
For farmers, a plethora of problems loom large on that horizon, threatening the industry which they have labored for decades to build. The shadowy figures resemble monsters. The drought menaces productivity gains or, at the very least, the perception thereof. Hard-fought battles to grow markets for their crops no longer seem like memories. The fog of fear creates doubt.
No longer able to clearly envision the brighter tomorrow that once inspired passionate pride in agriculture, a strong biofuels industry, an abundant supply of healthy foods and a resurgent rural economy, short-sighted attacks from launched under the cover of night lunge from reactionary corners.
Keenly aware of the cyclic moods of Mother Nature, farmers understand that a year of drought does negate centuries of innovation. Now, more than ever, this vibrant viewpoint needs to shine through the morass, leading Americans forth on the long-charted path toward that crystalline vision.
Instead of engaging the willfully obtuse in a never-ending debacle of a debate, farmers need to appraise arguments against their triumvirate of triumphs, ethanol, biotechnology and production advancements, with an eagle’s eye. Even though it may seem illogical, certain sectors have tied a blindfold around their own eyes and plugged their own ears rendering themselves unable to contemplate evidence that might contradict their anti-agriculture agendas.
Then, after writing off the screeches of the intentionally obtuse harpies, farmers can focus with pinpoint precision on the rock solid record of success. Repeatedly, American agriculture has set the bar far beyond what many believed it could reach. Repeatedly, it has vaulted well over that bar, soaring to greater heights time and time again.
Farmers set out to build an ethanol industry that would provide a new market for their crops, spur rural economic development, increase domestic energy production and decrease air pollution. Today, they have already achieved every one of those goals. In five short years, a booming industry has improved the fortunes of farmers and their communities at an exponential rate.
When critics attack these achievements, often detracting from ethanol’s success to draw attention from the lack of their own, American agriculture must defend its record with pride instead of apologizing for a single year of mild production setbacks. The rains will come. The corn will grow. It is crucial to the continued success of agriculture and of rural America farmers that the demand built through an incredible investment in ethanol remains strong.
Instead of falling prey to the demons of doubt, American agriculture should shine like the beacon, illuminating the increased employment, improved food and energy security and economic advancement that farmers have built through innovation and hard work. Farmers chartered the right course years ago. Now, they must lead others who got lost in the fog back to the path toward a brilliant tomorrow.
Posted By Cathryn October 3, 2012
In the ongoing slander campaign aimed at ethanol, the biofuel’s belligerent detractors have one less credible claim as U.S. auto manufacturers Ford and General Motors, Inc. will accept use of E15 in newer vehicles. Negating the claim that higher ethanol blends would void manufacturer warranties, this important decision shows that American car makers believe in the American made fuel.
The move toward accepting higher ethanol blends goes beyond assuaging any warranty concerns for owners of new Ford or GM vehicles though. By accepting E15, these industry-leaders set a precedent. Now, instead of simply claiming anti-ethanol policies follow industry standards, other auto manufacturers must explain their reluctance.
Whether the corporate culture fosters an adversity toward change or their board views ethanol as a reliable scapegoat, the refusal to accept E15 puts a car maker behind the curve. Notably, with E15 fueling NASCAR Toyotas to victory every week, it is time for the ethanol-eschewing suits dictating the company’s policies to catch up to the American innovators leading this pack.
Whether E15 fuels high performance races at NASCAR or trips to market in the family SUV, it helping more Americans reach their destinations daily in a more environmentally-friendly, affordable way. American farmers, car manufacturers and consumers stand together, and they stand firmly behind E15. More than ever, ethanol fuels our economy, our communities and our future.
Learn more about how ethanol fuels America by clicking here.