ORLANDO, Fla. — Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, addressed more than 1,000 people at the National Ethanol Conference in Orlando, Fla. In his annual “State of the Industry” speech entitled “Falling Walls, Rising Tides”, the RFA leader touted the strength of the ethanol industry.
2014 will be the year the “blend wall comes crashing down,” “the cellulose wall is cracked,” “the trade wall erected by Europe will be breached,” and “the octane wall crumbles.”
Tying the remarks back to the theme of “Falling Walls, Rising Tides”, Dinneen stated that “a rising tide lifts all boats” and noted “the notion of a rising tide aptly describes the economic reach of the American ethanol industry.”
– The American ethanol industry produced 13.3 billion gallons of fuel in 2013, the second-highest production rate in history.
– Last year alone the American ethanol industry was responsible for some 86,500 direct jobs, and another 300,277 indirect and induced jobs.
– The American ethanol industry contributed more than $44 billion to the Gross Domestic Product last year … provided $30.7 billion in household income. And ethanol plants paid more than $8.3 billion in federal, state and local taxes.
Dinneen pointed toward the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) which was established to “wean America off our dependence on imported oil,” “stimulate investment in new technologies,” “provide consumers choice at the pump,” and “revive rural economies,” as well as “requiring a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels.”
“Without question, the Renewable Fuels Standard was, and is, visionary legislation that has become a model for progressive energy policy across the globe… And by any measure, the RFS has been a remarkable success.”
He stressed the need to protect the RFS, “All we ask of Washington is one thing – Keep. Your. Word. Keep your word. It’s that simple.”
The ethanol industry and the RFS have been effective in reducing foreign oil dependence and strengthening American energy independence. Dinneen explained, “the RFS and ethanol have helped drive our import dependence down to just 35% in 2013.” Ethanol reduced gasoline imports to near zero today and displaced 462 million barrels of imported oil last year.
Ethanol production and the RFS are reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Dinneen noted a Life Cycle Associates study showing that corn ethanol production has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 32% compared to petroleum and 37-40% compared to tight oil from fracking and tar sands. He stated, “from an environmental perspective, the RFS has been a stone cold winner.”
The Renewable Fuel Standard is under attack by the Environmental Protection Agency, which proposed a rule to reduce the 2014 conventional blending requirements from 14.4 billion gallons to 13.01 billion gallons that Dinneen called “an inexplicable step backwards to what has been an overwhelming successful program.”
But he expressed hope in the outcry against EPA’s proposal, “Thankfully, Americans across the country stood up to express their frustration. At a public hearing EPA convened in December, well more than 2 to 1 of the citizen advocates attending were appalled by EPA’s action and demanded the Agency implement the RFS according to the statute.”
Pointing to the more than 50,000 comments opposing EPA’s proposed blending reductions, Dinneen stated, “now, EPA must listen and lead” while reiterating, “Washington, Keep Your Word!”
He concluded, “The U.S. ethanol industry has solidified its position as the low cost ethanol producer in the world … 2014 will be a banner year of rising tides and falling walls!”
The full text of the speech as prepared is available here.
*Update* See the complete audio and video recordings of the address below.