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Looking Forward to Ethanol's New Year
by Lars Herseth, ACE President

The “Last Word” segment of this publication of our Ethanol Today magazine would probably best be titled “First Word.” I have been on the American Coalition for Ethanol’s Board of Directors for a number of years, but today I’m writing to you as its new President, and they’ve asked me to share a few words in this last magazine issue of 2009.

I think ACE and its members can be proud of many things this year, and one item to specifically note is the DC fly-in held in March. ACE and about 30 of its grassroots members spent two days on Capitol Hill, meeting with 70 Members of Congress and with Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. What a prime opportunity to speak directly with these decision-makers. I was glad to be a part of the trip, and I hope others will consider participating in the future.

One of our board members, Owen Jones, suggested that we consider turning this program into a DC “fly-out.” We would invite key staff people from Congressional offices, EPA, the Department of Ag, and the Department of Energy to come to the Midwest and visit an ethanol plant, or ride on a combine or a tractor planting corn, or visit a site testing E30. Sounds like a good idea to me – give us some feedback on this.

Two of the topics we talked a lot about in DC took center stage all year. The issue of the E10 blend wall was confronted this spring when ACE and other groups joined together to submit the E15 waiver to the EPA. ACE members have done a great job this year of publicly supporting the E15 effort. Our online petition gathered more than 7,000 signatures from people representing all 50 states, and these were submitted to EPA as part of ACE’s testimony on the issue. This widespread support, plus the volumes of testing done on higher blends, have to be persuasive in support of lifting the blend wall.

As I write this just before Thanksgiving, we’re hearing that the EPA may not meet the December 1 deadline for making a decision on E15. I hope this doesn’t happen because we know the science is there to support its approval. Let’s hope ethanol opponents’ politicizing of this issue hasn’t had undue influence.

The issue of “indirect land use change” was important this year as well, becoming part of California’s low carbon fuel standard and the rules for the new Renewable Fuels Standard. ACE and its members worked hard to inject science back into the conversation and to prevent these policies from being written based on the predictions from computer models instead of on hard data. An important win came when the U.S. House agreed in its climate change bill to have a period of independent study before indirect land use change penalties could be charged against biofuels. Even though Congress didn’t complete its work on a climate change bill this year, this agreement sets an important precedent for the future.

We need to continue getting our message of common sense to the American people and to policymakers in Washington. How can a national policy of developing alternative energy, endorsed by two Administrations, be stymied by an arbitrary E10 blend wall? How can a theory that is unproven, with no scientific data to support it, be used to thwart ethanol development? Common sense would indicate that the ethanol industry will win on these issues, but not without a lot of hard work by all of us. We need your help.

Looking forward to next year for ethanol, I know these issues will continue to be a focus for us, plus the upcoming expiration of the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit and the question of how that will be renewed. I’m also looking forward to seeing the new “Blend Your Own Ethanol” campaign in action. Blender pumps are such a vitally important way to get ethanol to consumers, and the partnership of ACE, the Renewable Fuels Association, and corn growers sets a great example of how to work together to advance the entire industry. I can’t wait to see those 5,000 blender pumps being installed all across the country.

The people who help make all this important work happen deserve a note of appreciation. Thank you to Eric Washburn who represents ACE so ably in Washington, DC. The ACE staff is a dedicated group, lead by Executive Vice President Brian Jennings and Vice President / Market Development Ron Lamberty, supported by Kristin Brekke (Communications Director / Editor), Shannon Gustafson (Director of Strategic Projects), Lacey Dixon (Director of Member & Industry Relations), Chuck Beck (Member Service, Research & Communications Specialist), and Sara Eiesland (Staff Assistant & Social Media Specialist). Thank you, all, for your hard work.

The most important people of all are the members who support the organization. Your support allows ACE to do its work and do it well, and we hope you will join us in the fight for ethanol in the upcoming year.

 
© American Coalition for Ethanol, all rights reserved.
The American Coalition for Ethanol publishes Ethanol Today magazine each month to cover the biofuels industryís hot topics, including cellulosic ethanol, E85, corn ethanol, food versus fuel, ethanolís carbon footprint, E10, E15, and mid-range ethanol blends.
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