ACE members pressure EPA, White House

ACE members will keep working to help the EPA get the RFS on track will also continuing to work on other strategies to increase ethanol use, writes Brian Jennings. The column appears in the November issue of EPM.
By Brian Jennings | October 15, 2015

One reason I love working for members of the American Coalition for Ethanol is that they know success looks different on paper than it does in reality. They have battle scars.  In the face of adversity, they don’t give up.  They quietly and calmly roll up their sleeves and work to overcome challenges.

At ACE we call that power by people.  It is what our members do and how they do it.  It’s who they are, the heart and soul of ethanol.  We launched our “Power by People” campaign to appeal to people’s hearts and minds, to share personal stories that convey ethanol shouldn’t just be valued by the barrels of oil and tons of greenhouse gases (GHGs) it displaces.  It should also be measured by the human good it delivers.

Coincidently, success isn’t the only thing that looks different on paper than it does in reality.  The same can be said for the renewable fuel standard (RFS).  Under the U.S.  EPA’s recent supervision, the RFS has been messy, slow-going, and hard work.

We’re trying to be patient with the EPA.  We’re trying to constructively help it come to grips with what the law does, and does not, allow the agency to do with annual adjustments to the blending targets.  Remarkably, EPA’s current proposal sides with oil companies, whose ultimate goal is to repeal the RFS.

EPA is expected to issue a rulemaking later this month, which will largely determine the future of the RFS. What are we to do if EPA’s decision is to keep riding the brakes on the program?  Maintain pressure on them to keep the RFS on track?  Absolutely.  Last time I checked, 650,000-plus comments were submitted to EPA on its proposed rule and 100 of the 200-some people testifying at the EPA hearing in Kansas City this summer were from ACE-member companies.  I’d call that pressure.

What are we to do if EPA drives the RFS into the ditch?  Do we take EPA to court if the final rule is based on the blend wall?  We’ll have wait and see the final rule.  The agency is expected to issue it by Nov. 30.

This fall, to keep pressure on EPA and the White House, ACE launched another round of ads to highlight the benefits of the RFS to everyday people.  Many ethanol supporters joined us in a social media blitz, helping us extend the reach of our efforts on those platforms.

In the face of this EPA-driven uncertainty about the RFS, we also have a responsibility to keep building momentum for other demand drivers. To that end, ACE members are promoting the clean octane benefits of ethanol, working to position blends such as E25 and E30 as higher octane fuels that can not only help automakers comply with CAFE-GHG standards, but also replace benzene and other toxic carcinogens in gasoline. 

ACE members are also getting the most out of technology innovations in corn and ethanol production to meet the demands for low carbon fuels in California and other Low Carbon Fuel Standard markets. 

We’d all prefer to use more ethanol here at home, but as long as EPA and oil companies erect artificial barriers, many ACE members are also promoting export demand for our products. 

When it comes to renewable fuel policy, the RFS is the gold standard, the envy of the world.  Since the original RFS was enacted in 2005, more than 30 countries around the globe have followed suit in some shape or form.

ACE was the first organization to support the RFS.  Our devotion to making the RFS work is unquestionable. 

The question is whether EPA is going to hold up its end of the deal.

No matter what EPA decides to do, my confidence in ACE members is stronger than ever.  Let’s keep trying to help EPA get the RFS back on track, but let’s also have the wisdom to continue working on these other strategies to increase ethanol use.  ACE will be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you every step of the way.

No fanfare, just hard work.

Author: Brian Jennings
Executive Vice President
American Coalition for Ethanol