Cooper delivers state of the industry at NEC

By Matt Thompson | February 11, 2020

Geoff Cooper, Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO, today delivered his state of the industry address at the National Ethanol Conference in Houston, Texas.

Cooper said that while 2019 was a difficult year for the ethanol industry, there is reason for optimism in 2020. He highlighted several positive developments for the industry that happened at the end of last year, including President Donald Trump’s announcement in December that a phase one trade deal with China had been reached, and the announcement of future investment in biofuels infrastructure.

“Now it’s 2020 and we’ve picked up even more momentum,” Cooper said. “In just the first few months of the year, we have seen final ratification of U.S. MCA (the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement). We’ve seen more details on the China phase one agreement and visible progress on USDA’s infrastructure program.”

However, Cooper said the recent U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals finding that the U.S. EPA went above its authority in granting certain small refinery exemptions has so far been the best news of the year for the ethanol industry. “The court vacated these three exemptions and remanded them back to EPA for further action,” Cooper said. “We expect the decision will ultimately apply broadly to EPA’s actions regarding all small refinery exemptions.”

Cooper also discussed the potential for a future low carbon fuel standard, and its importance for ethanol. “As we write the next chapter of renewable fuels policy, RFA and its allies believe ethanol has a tremendous opportunity to serve as the key ingredient of a future low-carbon fuel that delivers significant benefits to America,” Cooper said.

And that’s something RFA is pursuing, he said. “We are actively engaged in discussion with lawmakers, legislative council and regulators around a low-carbon octane standard.” Positioning ethanol is important in the current discussions about climate change, Cooper said, adding that while few of the proposed climate change polices are expected to be enacted in the near-term, “their sponsors are sending a clear message: Legislative action aimed at curbing carbon emissions and combating climate change is coming.”