Ethanol groups unite in response to anti-ethanol policy forum

By Kris Bevill | April 14, 2011

Food and environmental lobby groups took their anti-ethanol message to the Capitol Visitors Center April 14, staging a “Corn Ethanol Policy Forum” that included planned remarks from several legislators as well as analysts from the Environmental Working Group, the International Food Policy Research Institute, FarmEcon LLC and others. According to a release issued by the event’s organizers, panel discussions were focused on corn ethanol policy related to energy independence, food security, fiscal responsibility and environmental stewardship.

Ethanol industry representatives, including the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and the American Coalition for Ethanol, along with the National Corn Growers Association issued a rare joint statement in response to the policy forum. “Any energy policy forum must include comprehensive and adult conversations about America’s entire energy agenda, including subsidies and other supportive policies for mature and aging technologies like petroleum,” the groups stated. “Unfortunately, it is unlikely this ‘forum’ will include any of those discussions. Rather, this is yet another example of defenders of the status quo wasting the time of Congress focusing on bogus claims against the ethanol industry instead of finding solutions to the real problems.”

The ethanol coalition further stated that 75 cents of every dollar spent on biofuels is re-circulated through the local economy and pointed to ethanol’s role in lessening the increase of gas prices. “Today, when it can easily cost over $50 to fill a gas tank, critics would be wise to remember that domestic ethanol actually has helped motorists by lowering gas prices by estimates as high as 40 cents per gallon,” the group stated. “The value of the crude oil displaced by U.S. ethanol amounted to $34 billion in 2010. In the end, that’s the best way to support food and energy security, not through holding make-believe, one-sided policy forums.”

Earlier in the week, RFA members visited Washington, D.C. to spend a day on Capitol Hill discussing their own ideas for ethanol policy reform with Congressional members. The RFA said discussion topics would be focused on Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit reform, necessary infrastructure expansions, and support for the commercialization of second-generation ethanol. Growth Energy hosted a delegation of its members from Kansas on April 8, who also spent time discussing ethanol policy with their representatives. In late March, ACE welcomed a record number of its members to Washington for the group’s third annual fly-in to lobby Congressional members for support for installations of blender pumps, increased manufacturing of flex-fuel vehicles and VEETC reform.

The NCGA, RFA, ACE and Growth Energy have also been meeting twice monthly for months to shape a unified long-term policy which, when completed, will be presented to Congress for its consideration.