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American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Jennings Presses Biden to Stand by Ethanol

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol, asked President Joe Biden to bolster the ethanol industry by setting maximum volumes in the Renewable Fuel Standard. (Photo by Tom Dodge)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- With reports the Biden administration is further delaying the release of proposed Renewable Fuel Standard volumes for 2021 and 2022, the head of the American Coalition for Ethanol asked the president in a letter on Wednesday to support the industry.

"I write today to urge you to set the maximum statutory conventional renewable fuel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard in the 2021 and 2022 Renewable Volume Obligation rulemaking and pursue every option at your disposal to ensure uninterrupted market access for E15," CEO Brian Jennings said in the letter.

"These actions are the quickest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. transportation fleet in the near term and advance net-negative biofuel production that can help achieve a fully decarbonized transportation future."

Jennings told the president ethanol producers and their communities are "depending upon this administration to restore integrity to the RFS" and to "provide market signals that higher blends of ethanol are part of your plan to tackle climate change in the transportation sector."

The Biden administration has come under fire from ethanol interests for the virtual exclusion of ethanol and other biofuels from recent actions to bolster infrastructure in the U.S., in favor of electric vehicles.

Jennings told Biden while EVs may be the wave of the future, ethanol is ready now to help de-carbonize the transportation sector.

"We recognize your goal is to electrify the vehicle fleet in the future, but the inconvenient truth is there are hundreds of millions more people driving vehicles capable of using low-carbon substitutes to petroleum such as E15 and E85 today than any other alternative," Jennings said in the letter.

"Since this reality will exist well into the future increasing the use of ethanol today will immediately reduce GHGs while the production of electric vehicles ramps up."

Jennings said Congress enacted the RFS to "displace fossil fuels" with lower-carbon renewable fuels such as ethanol. Today, ethanol companies can produce more than 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol annually with average lifecycle GHG emissions that are "50% cleaner than gasoline," he said.

"As climate scientists continue to warn we need to make immediate and rapid CO2 reductions, maximizing ethanol usage now is the best way to curb GHG emissions quickly at scale," Jennings said.

"Today, 97% of all U.S. vehicles are legally approved to use E15 and nearly 25 million flexible fuel vehicles can operate on blends of ethanol and gasoline up to E85. Additionally, U.S.- produced ethanol is the only transportation fuel alternative that can reach net-negative lifecycle GHG emissions with proper long-term technology neutral federal policies."

Jennings said decisions by the previous two administrations to "side with oil refiners" have "undermined the RFS" and slowed the replacement of petroleum with "cleaner alternatives."

Jennings said, "ACE members are concerned your administration is currently deliberating a similar tradeoff."

He said the Biden administration's pending decision on the 2021 and 2022 RFS volumes will "determine whether the administration will allow those GHG reductions" to occur.

"In the mid-term, the pending RVO decision will act as a harbinger for companies on how much to rely on your commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050 when making investment decisions," Jennings said.

"Net-negative biofuels and EVs will both be needed to attain net-zero emissions in the U.S. transportation sector. That said, inconsistent implementation of such policies will stall progress. The administration's willingness, or lack thereof, to enforce existing policies designed to displace status quo petroleum market share with low-carbon alternatives will be noted. If your administration is not willing to ensure the RFS will call for 15 billion gallons of low-carbon ethanol already being produced to replace petroleum at the pump, legitimate questions will be asked about the merits of non-binding executive orders setting national goals for less deployable decarbonization technologies."

Read the letter here: https://ethanol.org/…

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @DTNeeley

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