By Brooke Appleton
Congress is back in session and focusing on a host of issues, including funding government agencies, debating the budget reconciliation bill and dealing with a debt ceiling deadline. Top of mind for many congressional members is how to meet the Biden administration’s ambitious goals for lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
NCGA has been telling Congress and administration officials that providing consumers with year-round access to higher blends of ethanol is an immediate step toward lower transportation emissions. Unfortunately, equal market access for higher ethanol blends is in jeopardy thanks to the relentless efforts of the oil industry, which is putting its profits ahead of the wellbeing of farmers, consumers and the environment.
Over the summer, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a 2019 rule by the Environmental Protection Agency that removed outdated regulatory barriers to the sale of 15 percent ethanol-blended fuel during the summer months.
NCGA and state corn grower associations are working to get legislation passed that would address these developments and ensure that drivers have year-round access to E15. Bills currently pending in the House and Senate (H.R. 4410/S. 2339) would allow consumers to buy E15 year-round just like they do standard 10 percent ethanol blends.
We appreciate Representatives Angie Craig (MN), Adrian Smith (NE) and Senators Deb Fischer (NE) and Amy Klobuchar (MN) for leading on this legislation, as well as the bipartisan House and Senate cosponsors who have signed on to show support for this much-needed fix. We’re still in the early stages and will need more support to move this legislation forward. We encourage you to reach out and thank these supporters and encourage other members of Congress to follow their lead.
As part of our ongoing efforts to put more ethanol into fuel tanks, we have worked closely with Rep. Cheri Bustos (IL) to get the Next Generation Fuels Act (H.R. 5089) reintroduced this year. Corn ethanol already makes up a small portion of fuel volume, which benefits farmers and lowers fuel prices while addressing environmental concerns. The Next Generation Fuels Act builds on this success by requiring that vehicles incorporate higher corn ethanol to meet the bill’s low-carbon, high-octane standard.
More ethanol demand will bolster farm incomes, helping family-owned farms keep pace with technological developments and remain globally competitive. The legislation takes a cooperative approach to solving pressing environmental issues, while protecting the livelihood of those in rural America.
NCGA has also been working with policymakers to ensure that the investments being made in infrastructure include funding for higher blends of biofuels. We are grateful to the House Agriculture Committee for including funding for biofuels infrastructure in the budget reconciliation legislation that Congress continues to consider. But for this effort to truly be meaningful, consumers need year-round access to E15.
We are thankful for the support we have received on this issue from Representatives Cindy Axne (IA), Angie Craig (MN), and Cheri Bustos (IL), along with Chairman David Scott of (GA) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN) and Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (MI).
The important role ethanol plays in helping farmers, consumers and the environment should be clear to policymakers. That’s why it is disappointing to see the president take only one long-term path to meeting his ambitious climate goals when corn ethanol is a solution that is available right now. We will continue to work closely with the administration and members of Congress to educate them about the benefits of biofuels, and we will be turning to you in the coming weeks for help with elevating these issues with your members of Congress. You can find more information on these issues at www.ncga.com.
Appleton is Vice President of Public Policy for the National Corn Growers Association. Ears in Washington, which is produced monthly, focuses on the federal policy issues important to corn growers.