Cooper discusses industry achievements, 2019 goals at NEC

By Matt Thompson | February 12, 2019

Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, addressed attendees of the National Ethanol Conference in Orlando, and outlined RFA’s goals for the coming year, which include continuing to advocate for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), as well as advocating for a high-octane fuel standard.

“The RFS and a high-octane, low-carbon fuel program are not mutually exclusive,” Cooper said. “Rather, they can work in concert, not in conflict, to assure air quality improvements, carbon emissions reduction, and consumer savings for decades to come.”

Cooper noted the industry’s achievements in 2018, which included producing a record 16.1 billion gallons of ethanol, while exporting 1.6 billion gallons. He also mentioned emerging corn-kernel-fiber-to-ethanol technologies that have helped producers increase ethanol yields to over 3 gallons per bushel.

Despite those victories, Cooper acknowledged the challenges the industry faced in the last 12 months. From tariffs that effectively stopped ethanol exports to China, to the small refinery waivers granted under former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Cooper admitted last year “was a tough year. And when you’re doing everything right, but can’t catch that break, it’s easy to become frustrated,” he said.

But Cooper also offered hope for the industry’s future, noting that there are several upcoming opportunities for the industry to hit homeruns in 2019. He said the RFA will be ready to help China meet its 10 percent ethanol blend goal by 2020, once exports to the country are renewed, and will be ready to make sure EPA’s rule to allow the year-round sale of E15 is finalized quickly.

Cooper said RFA is also committed to advocating that the RFS reset rule be used to increase the amount of renewable fuel blending required under the rule. “In fact, as we wrote to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler just two weeks ago, the reset rule presents a perfect opportunity for the agency to restore the conventional renewable volumes that were inappropriately erased by Scott Pruitt’s small refinery waivers and the Obama administration’s illegal use of a general waiver to reduce the 2016 standards,” he said.

“Obviously, that is a long and complicated to-do list, but achieving these objectives would amount to nothing short of a grand slam—both for our industry and for American consumers,” Cooper said.