USDA deputy secretary speaks at ACE fly-in

By Lisa Gibson | April 03, 2019

Addressing attendees of the American Ethanol Coalition’s fly-in on April 3, Deputy USDA Secretary Stephen Censky emphasized the greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction study USDA released the day before. The study found ethanol GHG emissions are 39 percent below that of gasoline.

Censky mentioned the “old, old, incorrect information” about ethanol’s emissions profile often referred to by policymakers and media. According to the USDA, the study supports findings of other research that ethanol has a significantly better GHG profile that previously estimated. “We’re really trying to bring to bear the tremendous benefits of ethanol.”

Much of the benefits are attributed to revised estimates of land use change, according to the USDA.

Censky also focused on the Reid vapor pressure waiver (RVP) for E15, saying it’s a top priority for USDA, and adding that he believes the EPA when it says the rule will be enforced before the summer driving season begins June 1. “We are working with the administration to make sure that gets done.”

Censky addressed trade barriers, saying USDA is working to emphasize to Brazil how crucial it is that the tariff rate quota on ethanol expire in September.

USDA has worked with Mexico, as well, Censky said, to help set up its new E10 policy. “As you know, we need every gallon we can get,” he said.

One attendee asked Censky how the industry can help USDA communicate to the administration and EPA the issues crucial to rural America and the ethanol industry. Come together, he answered. Get biofuels, ag, banking and other relevant industries to communicate the needs together to get support on Capitol Hill. “To the extent that we can have a unified and compelling message, that’s helpful,” Censky said.

Another attendee addressed small refinery exemptions and the 2.6 billion gallons of ethanol that have not been reallocated, asking Censky if a moratorium can be put on small refinery exemptions (SREs). Censky answered that legally, he is uncertain. “Certainly, we are hoping and urging EPA to be much more judicious with the 2018 waivers.”