Washington – The Renewable Fuels Association today sent a letter to President Obama detailing the dynamic state of America’s ethanol industry. The letter was prompted by remarks President Obama made during his Twitter town hall event earlier this week, in which the President seemed to question the commitment of ethanol producers and advocates to innovation.
“While much of our industry’s research and development focus is on the next generation of feedstocks and biofuels, the existing grain-based industry has quietly made tremendous strides in its economic and environmental efficiency in recent years,” wrote RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Given its rapid rate of innovation and evolution, it was concerning to hear you suggest during your Twitter town hall that American ethanol was behind the innovation curve. More troubling was your assessment that Brazilian ethanol is a superior, more efficient product than the one produced here at home.”
Specifically, the letter noted that the U.S. ethanol industry is the largest in the world, producing well in excess of 13 billion gallons of ethanol annually. Moreover, it is having a measurable impact on America’s foreign oil habit by reducing imported oil needs by 445 million barrels a year – a sum greater than what is imported from Saudi Arabia annually.
Importantly, the letter stated that “American-made ethanol is the most cost-effective motor fuel on the market today, costing less than Brazilian ethanol and gasoline.” Additionally, Dinneen noted that the domestic industry is an unparalleled economic engine for rural American, creating some 400,000 good paying jobs that stand in “stark contrast to some of the working conditions and pay received by Brazilians employed on sugar plantations and ethanol mills.”
As to the President’s comment on efficiency, Dinneen noted in his letter that “ethanol production today is showing tremendous energy benefits with current ethanol production producing up to 2.3 units of energy for every unit of energy used. Together with improved efficiencies and new technologies, ethanol producers are getting more ethanol per bushel of corn and using fewer BTUs and gallons of water in the process.”
Dinneen also pointed out that American ethanol producers get nearly 100 gallons of ethanol from a ton of corn, whereas Brazilian sugarcane producers get just 25 gallons per ton, according to a USDA analysis.
On the issue of American ethanol innovation, Dinneen highlighted the rapid development of new ethanol technologies and the prospect of advanced and cellulosic ethanol production in the very near future.
“America’s ethanol industry is not behind the curve in technology innovation; we are setting the curve,” Dinneen wrote. “Investments made in ethanol production capacity, technology, and fueling infrastructure are just now beginning to pay dividends. As such, now is not the time to question our progress or efficiency, but to reassert the importance of a robust, domestic ethanol industry to the nation’s energy, environmental, economic, and national security goals. Americans cannot continue to bear the dangers presented by an outdated energy policy that locks us into a crippling addiction to imported oil.”
Dinneen stated that “Tthe contributions of homegrown first- and second-generation ethanol production to our energy future should not be marred by outdated and unbalanced comparisons to biofuels production in other nations.”
Dinneen also urged the President to take pride in what American ethanol producers are accomplishing. “Mr. President, America’s ethanol industry should be a source of pride. It is a sparkling example of what made America great: the imagination to dream and the ability to make that dream a reality.”
The full letter is available here.