ethanol plant in corn fields Jim Parkin iStock

Global ethanol leaders gather in Houston

Discussions focus on current and future opportunities for ethanol in the Western Hemisphere.

Industry and government officials from more than 15 countries in the Western Hemisphere are meeting this week at the Ethanol Summit of the Americas to discuss current and future opportunities for ethanol in the region.

The event, underway until Friday in Houston, Texas, is sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Assn. (RFA) and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. These organizations and others in the U.S. agriculture and renewable fuel industries work together to promote the global use of ethanol and U.S. ethanol exports.  

The summit brings together recognized scientists and ethanol experts to engage with policy-makers and provide information on the economic and environmental benefits of ethanol-blended fuel. The summit has also served as a launching point for expanded regional engagement markets in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.

“Increasing cooperation between ethanol industries supports economic growth for all countries involved,” USGC president and chief executive officer Tom Sleight said. “Collaborative efforts like the meetings this week enable a greater understanding of the policy climate surrounding ethanol and help pave the way for expanded ethanol use throughout the region.”

The Ethanol Summit is highlighting the use of ethanol in transportation fuels to help meet a number of economic and environmental challenges, including improving air quality, extending the current fuel supply and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“The United States is the world’s top ethanol exporter, providing countries around the globe with an alternative to toxic gasoline additives and helping to reduce air pollution,” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said. “Removing unnecessary barriers that impede free trade of ethanol and (dried distillers grains) will not only benefit consumers in the United States but throughout the world. Growth Energy is committed to creating thriving markets for ethanol beyond our borders and helping other nations adopt biofuels into their fuel supply.”

The two-day conference also includes technical presentations on ethanol-related policies, infrastructure and use in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Canada and Paraguay. The summit has highlighted the release of new research on the environmental benefits of blending ethanol into gasoline as well as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation ethanol roadmap, the economics of octane and how global ethanol spreads prosperity through trade.

“This event is well-timed, because dialogue and improved relationships among the hemisphere’s ethanol leadership is desperately needed right now to stem the growing scourge of protectionism that will only thwart our united efforts to expand this important industry and address pressing regional energy and environmental priorities,” RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen said.

“If we are ever to develop meaningful world markets capable of helping nations across the globe confront climate change, rural economic opportunity and energy security, we need to empower free and fair trade amongst biofuel-producing nations, not erecting tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade. No successful global industry was ever built on protectionism," Dinneen said.

The U.S. ethanol industry’s efforts, including conferences like the Ethanol Summit of the Americas, are helping successfully establish the U.S. as a reliable and affordable source of fuel.

The U.S. set an all-time high for ethanol exports in the 2016-17 marketing year at 1.37 billion gal. (488 million bu. of corn equivalent), exceeding the previous record set in 2011-12.

"Ethanol is a renewable fuel – cleaner-burning, high performing, affordable and homegrown from our corn fields,” said Iowa Corn Exports & The Grain Trade Committee chair Greg Alber, a farmer from Independence, Iowa. “The best way to enhance farmer profitability is to create new demand for corn through value-added products such as ethanol. Building demand for ethanol creates additional markets both domestically and internationally for our corn.”

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