- Emily Skor is CEO of Growth Energy.
For policymakers who have become complacent about US energy security, the past six months have been a rude awakening. Consumers were already facing historically high fuel prices before Russia invaded Ukraine. Then, the Russian crude oil ban and global market instability pushed fuel prices to new highs. Fortunately, biofuel blends like E15 have helped protect against soaring fuel prices, saving US motorists nearly a dollar per gallon in some parts of the country.
Policy makers understand the need to make these savings available to more drivers. In June, the United States House of Representatives voted to pass HR 7606, the Food and Fuel Cost Reduction Act. The bill included key provisions that would permanently remove barriers to year-round sales of 15% bioethanol fuel. Members of Congress across the political spectrum joins the push.
But biofuels are more than just an affordable alternative to Russian oil. They are at the forefront of an American bioeconomy offering transformative solutions to global climate and energy challenges. That’s why the Biden administration’s decision on the Renewable Fuels Standard, or RFS, is another important sign of progress.
New Renewable Volume Obligations, or RVOs, set by the Environmental Protection Agency in June will determine how many gallons of cleaner-burning renewable biofuel must be blended into the fuel supply. While the requirements for 2020 and 2021 were less than ideal, the 2022 RVOs have raised the bar for future growth, and we are looking ahead.
Not only did the EPA ensure consumer access to the 15 billion gallons of conventional biofuels required by Congress, but regulators restored the first half of the 500 million gallons that were illegally dumped in the 2016 RVOs. also ended inappropriate refinery exemptions, a move that will restore much-needed certainty to the biofuels industry and the entire fuel supply chain. Taken together, these actions demonstrate EPA’s commitment to getting the RFS back on track and underscore the critical role that biofuels play — and will continue to play — in mitigating climate change and lowering prices at the pump. .
The decision also positions the EPA for success as it works on a new rule — “the set” — that picks up where Congress left off in the RFS and establishes multi-year requirements for 2023 and beyond. .
As President Joe Biden recently said during a trip to Menlo, Iowa, “you just can’t get to net zero by 2050 without biofuels.” Indeed, researchers from Argonne National Laboratory, APEand a crowd of other leaders in the domain of emissions modeling everyone recognizes the undeniable climate benefits of bioethanol: a carbon advantage of almost 50% compared to gasoline, according to a 2021 report by Environmental Research Letters based on work by researchers at Environmental Health & Engineering Inc., with financial support from POET, LLC.
America is the world’s largest producer of biofuels, and we should use our full potential in promoting greater energy security and a healthy climate. Rural workers and heartland farmers are ready to lead the charge, and with a forward-looking RFS, we can finally break old patterns of reliance on expensive fossil fuels.
Staying on the net zero emissions path while controlling fuel prices will require continued support for clean and affordable liquid fuels and permanent solutions to ensure consumer access to higher bioethanol blends like E15.
Fortunately, we have great champions fighting alongside us. Legislators such as Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley and Representatives Cindy Axne, Ashley Hinson, Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Randy Feenstra have been instrumental in passing the E15 legislation year-round in the House and have pressed the White House to release the Iowa biofuels to protect working families from volatile oil markets. Now we must maintain this momentum, extend the role of biofuels to the entire transport sector.
Emily Skor is CEO of Growth Energy.