GEC has helped meet several domestic and international ethanol industry accomplishments

Administrative officer Anita Randolph answers questions about the Coalition
By Tom Bryan | May 01, 2002
Appointed by GEC Chair Governor Bob Holden, Anita Randolph serves as Administrative Chairperson of the Coalition. Randolph is an employee of the Missouri Energy Center.

EPM: Explain your role with the Governors' Ethanol Coalition (GEC). In what capacity does your office serve the Coalition?

Randolph: Missouri Governor Bob Holden serves as the 2002 Chairman of the Governors' Ethanol Coalition. Administrative support for the GEC is provided by several states. The Missouri Energy Center will provide assistance throughout the year by coordinating meetings, providing draft correspondence, recommending policy statements and actions, and performing necessary research to support the GEC.

EPM: How long have you been the Administrative Chair of the GEC?
Randolph: Beginning each calendar year, the GEC's vice chair from the previous year assumes the role of chair for one full year. As part of that responsibility, the chair provides the necessary resources to support the administrative needs of the coalition.

EPM: Why does the GEC exist? How was it formed?

Randolph: In September 1991, Nebraska's governor asked other governors interested in creating a group devoted to the promotion and use of ethanol to join him in Lincoln, Nebraska. From that meeting, the Governors' Ethanol Coalition emerged. Membership in the Coalition doubled from nine to 19 states during the first year.

EPM: How many member governors - and states - are currently involved with the GEC?

Randolph: At present, the Coalition represents 27 member states along with Brazil, Canada, Mexico and Sweden.

During 2002, Missouri Governor Bob Holden serves as the chair of the GEC and North Dakota Governor John Hoeven serves as vice chair. In January 2003, Governor Hoeven will serve as the GEC chair during 2003. Nebraska Governor Mike Johanns served as past chair (2001).

EPM: Is the GEC a bipartisan coalition?

Randolph: Yes. The Coalition's bylaws require that the chairman and vice chairman be from different political parties. During 2002, Missouri Governor Bob Holden (D) serves as chair while North Dakota Governor John Hoeven (R) serves as vice chair. Governor Hoeven will serve as the chair of the GEC in 2003.

One of the Coalition's guiding principles is development of beneficial policies that will garner bipartisan support. GEC represents a broad cross section of interests from across the country. Today, the GEC membership includes 16 Republicans, 9 Democrats, one Independent and one Popular Democrat. One of the greatest strengths of the coalition is its ability to
approach the nation's energy issues from a nonpartisan standpoint. All the members believe a national energy plan must include renewable transportation fuels.

EPM: What is the Coalition's ultimate membership goal? All 50 states?

Randolph: Any governor that has an interest in promoting ethanol is encouraged to join the Governors' Ethanol Coalition.

EPM: How does the GEC operate? How does it act? Explain the role of the GEC committees.

Randolph: The Coalition operates through consensus and close collaboration with its member states, with Governor Holden and Governor Hoeven providing suggested policy positions. The Coalition's committee structure provides technical support for the policy positions and initiatives as well as suggesting policy initiatives.

EPM: How many times a year does the GEC meet? What topics are discussed?

Randolph: The full membership of the GEC formally meets at least three times per year. The GEC conducts much of its business on a regular basis through on going contacts and staff interaction.

The GEC addresses a wide array of energy, environmental and economic development topics. Research and development, marketing and public policy are often discussed. Proposals regarding national energy policy have created a wealth of opportunities to provide important information about alternative fuels, particularly ethanol, to our lawmakers in Washington, D.C. A lot of the GEC's recent attention and focus has addressed the need for a national renewable fuels standard that would make clean ethanol fuels available to expand our supply of transportation fuels and help reduce our dependency on foreign oil.

EPM: What accomplishments has the GEC helped the ethanol industry reach?

Randolph: Now in its 10th year, the GEC has helped to meet several domestic and international accomplishments for the ethanol industry. These include the creation of several international alliances promoting the production and use of ethanol-based fuels. These partnerships help expand ethanol production and worldwide use through shared research, joint trade ventures and future market development.

On the energy and environment policy front, we have successfully increased the awareness by local and national policy makers of ethanol's environmental and economic benefits, including global climate change benefits. The GEC also has offered authoritative policy recommendations and formal testimony before the United States Congress, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and other energy and environment policy forums.

We have successfully championed the extension of the federal ethanol tax exemption until 2007.

The GEC continues to build on its successful development of nationwide market research about ethanol and its benefits. The Coalition is actively promoting a national E85 (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent blend of gasoline) infrastructure that now includes more than 70 fueling sites across the country.

The Coalition works with several closely aligned organizations, including the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, a national organization advocating and educating consumers about E85. Through this partnership, the Coalition has helped to coordinate the purchase of flexible fuels vehicles, capable of operating on up to 85 percent ethanol, by Coalition member states and other fleets.

Most recently, the Coalition was instrumental in assuring that proposed federal energy legislation embraced a national renewable fuels standard.

EMP: What primary challenges and opportunities is the GEC currently focused on? How will those objectives be met?

For environmental and health concerns, the nation has decided to clean up the fuels which have powered America for nearly a century. The federal Clean Air Act identified numerous areas of the country that must reduce or eliminate their pollution levels. Those areas must change the gasoline and diesel fuels used, either year-round or seasonally. Now through the next several years, cleaner and cleaner fuels such as ethanol, biodiesel, natural gas and propane will be used in cars, trucks and buses. The Governors' Ethanol Coalition wants to make certain that as the decisions on America's fuels are being made, ethanol and other clean home-grown fuels have a role in the nation's transportation fuels market.

EPM: Does the GEC support only grain-based ethanol production?

Randolph: As a fuel grown and refined from plant materials or waste right here in the U.S., ethanol represents one of the nation's and the world's greatest opportunities for developing a cleaner source of energy, lessening dependence on imported fuels, and stimulating our local, state and national economies.

EPM: What is the GEC's primary goal for 2002? Will it be accomplished?

Randolph: Our priority is the continued growth of ethanol use in new mass markets where it helps form the foundation of a national energy policy based increasingly on domestic, renewable energy sources that improve environmental quality.

The formation of a national energy policy and the adoption of a national renewable fuels standard provide a tremendous opportunity for the U.S. to increase its supply of clean transportation fuels, provide energy security, environmental improvements and economic development.

The benefits of ethanol are quite remarkable on a national level. The United States' ethanol industry has provided more than 40,000 jobs and will increase household income by more than $12.6 billion dollars over the next five years.

Its demand for corn increases net farm income by $12 billion dollars annually. And it will create a $4 billion dollar net gain to the taxpayers over the next five years.

All of these benefits support our farmers and develop our rural economies. And ethanol provides environmental benefits such as a 3.6 million-ton reduction in carbon dioxide emissions during 2001.

A national renewable fuels standard would triple ethanol use during the next decade. The GEC, along with the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Corn Growers, the National Biodiesel Board and many other organizations, strongly supports the adoption of a national Renewable Fuels Standard. Reliance on such a standard would reduce crude oil imports, thus reducing the U.S. trade deficit. And it would facilitate the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs, resulting in stronger U.S. household incomes.