By Geoff Cooper
In his first State of the Union Address, President Joe Biden spoke about many of the challenges facing our nation and world today, from the Ukraine invasion to domestic inflation, from climate change to the COVID pandemic. And while he spoke of the need for clean energy and stressed his support for electric vehicles, President Biden missed the opportunity to tout the role that renewable fuels like ethanol could fill both immediately as well as long-term. In short, ethanol checks all the boxes.
If you are concerned about the impact of war on the nation’s fuel supply and gas prices, you should know that the blending of ethanol into our nation’s fuel supply displaced 500 million barrels of imported oil just last year. More ethanol could easily be blended simply by the Biden administration supporting and allowing for year-round availability of E15. In fact, our nation’s ethanol producers currently have enough excess production capacity to supply enough ethanol to entirely replace equivalently the amount of crude oil the U.S. currently imports from Russia.
If you are worried about the current rate of inflation and the struggles of American families to make ends meet, you should know that the ethanol industry is creating good jobs around the country and lowering fuel prices at the pump—by 22 cents on average. Today, ethanol is selling for 70 to 80 cents less than gasoline at blending terminals. Last year, the renewable fuels industry supported more than 400,000 American jobs, boosting household income by nearly $30 billion. And the ethanol industry generated more than $50 billion in gross domestic product. Further, the price of ethanol is substantially lower than that of conventional gasoline, so every additional gallon of ethanol blended and sold is lowering the price for consumers using higher blends of ethanol.
If you lie awake at night worrying about climate change and the quality of air that you breathe, you should know that ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 50 percent on average, compared to gasoline—and our nation’s ethanol producers have pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, or sooner. In 2021, the use of low-carbon ethanol reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 54.5 million metric tons—the equivalent of removing 12 million cars from the road for an entire year.
And the COVID pandemic has certainly been on all of our minds. During the pandemic, U.S. biorefineries innovated and pivoted in 2020 to produce ethanol for hand sanitizers and other hygiene products. We captured CO2 for dry ice, to help transport vaccines. We were part of the solution during these challenging times.
In her response to President Biden’s address, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds mentioned biofuels as helping to restore American independence. She is right, and we’re grateful for that. Gov. Reynolds has time and again shown that she understands the wide range and the importance ethanol and other biofuels can play in securing our nation’s energy security.
At the National Ethanol Conference last week in New Orleans, I was proud to lay out the many opportunities that lie ahead for ethanol producers. Despite the silence we often get from Washington, there are many reasons to be bullish about the industry’s future, and to be grateful to our farmers and ethanol producers every time we go to a station and fill up our tanks.