“We’ve chosen ‘empowering fuel choice’ as our theme for this year’s conference,” said Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President of ACE, “and it really embodies what ACE has been about for a long time.”
Jennings cited several years of progress on the idea of fuel choice and multiple fuel blends. In 2007, ACE published an “optimal blends” study which found that blends like E20 and E30 can perform well in cars, and in some cases get mileage as good as with straight gasoline. In 2008, ACE published the first technical guide for petroleum marketers on the topic of blender pumps. Last year, ACE was proud to sign on to the E15 waiver application along with other groups, ACE launched the “Blend Your Own Ethanol” national campaign, and bi-partisan legislation was introduced in Congress to improve access to flexible fuel vehicles and blender pumps.
“Congress is arguing over everything, and EPA continues to dither on the E15 waiver,” Jennings said. “This is gravely serious for us in the ethanol industry, but it’s also important for every American.”
If regulations allowed more ethanol to a gallon of gasoline, every consumer would be able to save money at the pump. This is being blocked today by 30-year-old regulations, and Jennings says the Administration doesn’t recognize the mixed signals it is sending.
“The RFS sends a signal to produce more ethanol, but a thirty-year-old Clean Air Act restriction that limits ethanol to ten percent per gallon of gasoline is sending a signal to limit the use of ethanol,” Jennings said.
He expressed the industry’s frustration over the multiple delays in the U.S. EPA’s decision on the E15 waiver. After 270 days, they said they needed more time. In June they said they needed even more time, and now they are leaning toward approving up to E15 only in 2007 and newer vehicles.
“We could say the EPA is slow-walking the E15 issue, but that would imply that some progress is being made,” Jennings said.
He points out that if EPA approves E15 in only 2007 and newer vehicles, only 2 out of 10 vehicles would be able to use it. How many petroleum retailers are going to change their fuel slate for that small market?
A main focus right now is the ethanol tax credit, the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC).
“If VEETC expires, jobs will be lost and prices will rise for consumers,” Jennings said.
Jennings said that Members of Congress are expressing to ACE that, with only 20 days left in the Congressional calendar, we need to focus on what’s doable. Part of that depends on grassroots advocates and their willingness to talk to their Members of Congress – especially during the August Congressional recess.
“The very best ethanol lobbyists are sitting here,” Jennings said. He encouraged ACE members and all ethanol supporters to take advantage of the August recess and meet with their Representatives, invite them to visit your ethanol plant or meet with your board of directors. “That’s how we get things done,” he said.