The CEO of Growth Energy, the country’s largest ethanol trade association, says her industry is a critical path to climate change by partnering with farmers.
Emily Skor, whose association represents growers and business partners, spoke to the US House of Agriculture’s subcommittee on commodities exchanges and loans on November 16 about the role of renewable energies in the rural economy. The hearing was conducted by Chair Antonio Delgado, D-NY, and Ranking Member Michelle Fischbach, R-MN. Additional members of the subcommittee are Cindy Axne and Randy Feenstra from Iowa, Michael Cloud from Texas, and Angie Craig from Minnesota.
“Ethanol production has long been an economic engine for our rural economies,” said Skor. “The United States has 210 biorefineries in 27 states with the c -acity to produce more than 17 billion gallons of low-carbon, renewable fuel. Our industry is the second largest customer for U.S. corn growers and will buy nearly $ 30 billion worth of corn this year to make ethanol and an expanded range of bio-based products such as high-protein animal feed, renewable chemicals, and corn oil. ”
Renewable fuels like ethanol remain the most affordable and abundant source of low carbon fuel on the planet – and are critical to meeting today’s CO2 reduction goals, she said. The latest research shows that without biofuels there is no way to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Even when you factor in the projected growth of electric vehicles, the Energy Information Administration states that the vast majority of cars on the roads will run on liquid fuels by 2050, the CEO said.
“Higher blends of low carbon ethanol can be used in our current vehicle fleet to accelerate our transition to a 100% renewable energy future,” she said. “Simply put, America cannot decarbonise the transportation sector without home-grown biofuels. To meet the growing demand for renewable energies, we first need a strong and thriving rural economy and biofuel industry. “
At least that means that Joe Biden’s administration and Congress must ensure that biofuels are part of the transportation mix now and in the future. This can be achieved by:
• A strong standard for renewable fuels;
• Accelerated nationwide use of higher blends such as E15;
• Accurate carbon modeling of ethanol to better reflect the latest data, sustainable agricultural innovations and the reduction of carbon intensity in our biorefineries; and
• Incentives that give producers strong political signals to further reduce our CO2 intensity and expand into new transport markets.
A strong RFS will reduce CO2 emissions and create a stable market for US grain, she said.
“Annual blending requirements have been alarmingly delayed, and worrying media reports in the last few weeks have suggested the environmental protection agency may turn its back on blending heavier biofuels,” she said. “It is critical for ethanol producers and suppliers that the EPA immediately propose 15 billion gallons of conventional biofuels for 2021 and 2022.”
The Biden government cannot meet its two climate goals while rolling back low carbon biofuel requirements, she said, and the committee can help get that message across to the government.
“We -preciate that the committee put $ 1 billion into the Build Back Better Act to give drivers access to low-carbon, higher-ethanol blends. This provision builds on the US Department of Agriculture’s successful biofuel infrastructure programs under the last two administrations. These investments complement a nationwide switch to a 15 percent ethanol blend that would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions – the equivalent of removing nearly 4 million vehicles a year from the road, ”said Skor.
It would also create more than 182,000 additional jobs and save consumers $ 12.2 billion in fuel bills annually. To realize these benefits, Congress must pass the Craig-drafted Year-Round Fuel Choice Act to restore E15 summer sales, Skor said.
“By continually innovating, America’s ethanol producers and farmers are using fewer inputs and improving efficiency – on the plant and on the farm,” said Skor. We -preciate voluntary incentives in the Build Back Better Act that would help further reduce the CO2 intensity of agriculture, which accounts for 50 to 65% of our life cycle emissions. Since biofuel manufacturers recognize the value of low-carbon farming methods, farmers would also have the opportunity to benefit in the form of premium prices for their raw materials.
“The legislation also contains several important incentives to help ethanol manufacturers further reduce the carbon intensity of their fuel and enter new markets. These provisions, along with some recommended changes, are detailed in my written certificate. In summary, with the right political environment, our industry can further decarbonise our transportation sector – from passenger cars to our aviation fleet. “