Making America Great Again Starts at the States

Making America Great Again Starts at the States

By David VanderGriend, President Urban Air Initiative

With the clock ticking on the RFS and demand being destroyed through bureaucratic action, the ethanol industry seems to once again be at a crossroads. Do we accept being under the thumb of big oil and the EPA or do we demand that Washington allow rural America to do what rural America efficiently does; help feed and fuel the world in an environmentally responsible way and leave behind a better opportunity for the next generation.

Reports last month that there were almost 300,000 comments filed on the EPA’s annual volume obligation proposal speaks volumes as to how we are captive to a government program that would be obsolete and unnecessary if we had true competition on the fuel market. Really, 300,000 comments?  How much taxpayer money is spent to have people just read them, never mind take any action? How much time, effort and resources went in to preparing comments to ask for the bread crumbs of the gasoline market that we should have access to?

Cronyism in Washington has resulted in consumers, taxpayers, and all of Rural America being held hostage. In 2016, our industry supported 360,000 jobs in Rural America, contributed $44 billion towards the U.S. GDP, and another $23 billion in household income. Now, we’ve been able to produce these numbers without being free to compete. What impact would we have if we could really do what we’re capable of? We read glowing stories of the economy and how everyone is prospering when in reality the rural economy has been slower to recover from the last recession than any other sector.  With looming trade wars and depressed commodity prices it is only getting worse, yet ethanol offers us a chance to change our destiny.

The 15.8 billion gallons of ethanol we produce and the economic benefits it provides represent a lifeline to Rural America. Imagine a doubling of the ethanol industry by moving from just 10% blends to a range of volumes, and averaging 20% petroleum displacement. Now we are contributing nearly $90 billion annually with more than 717,000 jobs. We ran the numbers in Iowa as an example, a state that produces 4 billion gallons of ethanol and only keeps 3.5% of that amount in the state while importing 1.5 billion gallons of gasoline. Doubling the state average would keep $100 million Iowa dollars in Iowa. A similar scenario for prosperity exists in Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois and Kansas. And that’s at 20%– we are demonstrating the efficiency of E30 blends and there is no reason to stop there.

Well, actually there is a reason—and it’s the EPA. Fake Fuels, fake test procedures and oil influenced data produces fake results and paints a distorted and inaccurate picture of ethanol.

At the Urban Air Initiative, we have used Freedom of Information Requests that have given us access to thousands of emails and internal EPA documents that clearly show collusion between the oil industry and EPA. The result has been a nearly 30 year history of unfair treatment of ethanol and a failure to recognize its ability to protect public health while meeting a range of public policy objectives.

Every Midwest state has a Governor who was elected by the people. Why are these elected leaders not demanding their people have the choice to use their products? They have spent the last 10 years passively waiting for permission when they could have been demonstrating leadership. If they prefer to be glad-handing politicians, states should replace them with leaders.

Our Midwest states should demand the right to market their own fuel blends in their states without federal roadblocks. We have identified those roadblocks and offered practical, common sense solutions: Fix the emission and carbon models, allow higher blends year round, stop any limits on ethanol volumes, support a new certification fuel for higher blends, and enforce toxics controls.

Let the free market work for the producer, the retailer, and the consumer. Let us prove to the American consumer we really are cheaper, better, and cleaner.