Today, the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis released a plan to build a “clean economy for the American people.” The report calls on Congress to, among other things, reduce U.S. emissions rapidly to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050 and stimulate economic growth by increasing federal spending on climate action to at least 2 percent of GDP annually.
“We are glad to see Senate Democrats recognize that renewable fuels like ethanol have an important part to play in our nation’s low-carbon future,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “We are pleased to see the Committee acknowledge the role the Renewable Fuel Standard has already played in reducing emissions and we welcome the report’s discussion of a potential national Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). This report complements the House Select Committee’s recommendations in June, and it is clear that consensus is building around the need to further reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector.”
The Senate report highlights the success of state LCFS programs, like the first-of-its-kind California LCFS. According to the California Air Resources Board, corn ethanol used in the state is reducing GHG emissions by an average of 35% compared to gasoline, and the ethanol made from cellulosic crop residue is reducing GHG emissions by an average of 70% compared to gasoline.
“We look forward to speaking with the Committee about the value and contributions of grain-based ethanol under existing LCFS programs in California, Oregon, and British Columbia,” Cooper said. “Grain-based ethanol has already reduced transportation-related GHG emissions by 24 million metric tons in California, more than any other low-carbon fuel since the program began in 2011.”
Cooper said the LCFS model is spreading to other states and regions. “We are proud to be part of a broad coalition of stakeholders who recently developed a framework and set of guiding principles for a potential Midwest LCFS program. RFA served on the steering committee for the Midwest LCFS coalition, and we prioritized the inclusion of approaches that would reward farmers for reducing the carbon intensity of agricultural practices; we were happy to see the Committee recommend including incentives for lower-carbon farming practices.”
In particular, the senate report also endorses the value of carbon sequestration, noting that it can help sustainable farmers survive and thrive, and cites the important growth of bio-based products as smarter and healthier alternatives to those derived from fossil fuels – using corn ethanol as a prime example.