Farmers to Biden: Expand Biofuels Use

More Than 1,000 Farmers, Biofuel Supporters Ask Biden to Ramp up Industry

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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A group of more than 1,000 farmers and other biofuel supporters asked President Joe Biden to turn to biofuels to replace lost Russian oil and gas imports. (DTN file photo)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- More than 1,000 U.S. farmers and other biofuel supporters, in a letter delivered to the White House by the Renewable Fuels Association on Thursday, asked the Biden administration to turn to biofuels with rising gasoline prices and White House efforts to secure additional crude oil supplies from other nations to replace Russian oil banned for export to the U.S.

The Biden administration is seeing increasing pressure to restore year-round E15 availability across the country and to step up the production of ethanol and biodiesel as a way to replace Russian imports and to address all-time-high gasoline prices.

"We are farmers and biofuel supporters from across the country who support your pledge to use 'every tool at our disposal' to lower gasoline prices and deliver relief to American families who are experiencing pain at the pump with every fill-up," the letter said.

"However, we are concerned the actions taken so far only expand our reliance on petroleum fuels and do not seize upon the opportunity presented by domestic, clean-burning, low-carbon renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, we saw oil prices surge to more than $125 per barrel, and gasoline prices topped $4.30 per gallon. These inflationary impacts are devastating to family budgets already strained by the economic impacts of COVID."

In recent weeks, the Biden administration opened the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a move the farmers said would have a "very modest impact on oil supplies" but wouldn't address the problem long-term.

"Investigating anti-consumer behavior by oil companies hasn't helped lower prices," the letter said.

"And, suspending the federal gas tax, as has been suggested, would be shortsighted and threatens to leave our nation's roads and bridges in disrepair. By maintaining our dependence on crude oil, all of these proposed solutions only strengthen (Russian President) Vladimir Putin's ultimate objective of using Russia's petroleum resources as a strategic weapon in the current conflict. To thwart Putin's ability to use oil as a weapon, we must demonstrate that we do not need -- and do not want -- Russia's petroleum."

The signatures were collected by the RFA from its membership as well as at the Commodity Classic last week in New Orleans.

The farmers and biofuels producers told Biden biofuels such as ethanol were "underutilized in today's fuel market," because "outdated government regulations handcuff" market access and "deny consumers choice" at the pump.

"For example, EPA regulations currently prohibit the use of higher ethanol blends like E15 for much of the year, even though the fuel has been legally approved by EPA for use in more than 97% of the cars and trucks on the road," the letter said.

"Simply allowing gasoline blenders to sell E15 year-round would instantly help moderate prices at the pump and deliver relief to American families. Today, E15 is selling for 10 to 25 cents per gallon less than standard gasoline, meaning year-round use of the fuel would save the average American household at least $125 to $200 on its annual gasoline bill. Those savings would accrue immediately while also providing energy, environmental and economic benefits for the long-term."

The letter said they could "replace all the crude oil we import from Russia" with domestic production of ethanol and biodiesel."

They added, "We ask that you utilize your authority to remove regulatory barriers to expanded biofuel use, including specifically allowing the year-round use of E15 immediately.

"Doing so would provide relief to consumers today, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting the farm economy. We stand ready to unleash the power of American agriculture to enhance our nation's energy and environmental security."

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

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

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Todd Neeley