“Studies show there is no path to net-zero emissions by 2050 without biofuels,” testifies Emily Skor, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor before the Senate Agriculture Committee subcommittee on rural development and energy on June 22.
As the discussion of reducing emissions and a move to cleaner energy types including electric vehicles, Skor reminds legislators “many people agree that there is no path towards our clean energy future without using every tool in the toolbox.”
“We are well aware electric vehicles are an important part of the solution, and so are biofuels,” she adds.
Skor highlighted that it’s important to continue to recognize the innovation taking place in the biofuel and with respect to any forward-looking carbon policy, it is crucial to get the details correct, based on science, properly modeled and reflecting innovation that takes place at biofuel production facilities and in the field by farmers.
In response to a question from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Skor says ethanol plants producing cellulosic advanced biofuels achieve higher than the industry standard reduction of 46% reduction of greenhouse gases. However, these pathways are not approved because EPA is not using the right kind of modeling.
“We would support the concept of a low-carbon fuel standard provided you are technology-neutral and don’t have the thumb on the scale for one technology over another,” Skor adds, noting that all technologies can help deliver on the important progressive climate goals.
RFS back on track
Klobuchar and Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., also targeted questions and comments about recent reports of the Biden administration looking to utilize small refinery exemptions to diminish renewable fuels standard mandates.
“We are at a critical point in the economic recovery of rural America,” Skor explains. “A big part of our future success to not only recover loss demand but to propel growth in our job opportunities moving forward is getting the RFS back on track.
Recently, House and Senate leaders, led Amy Klobuchar, wrote in a letter to the EPA demanding the Biden administration “reject any actions under discussion to exempt oil refiners of their obligations under the RFS and uphold your commitment to combatting climate change and supporting our nation’s farmers."
“We support your efforts to address climate change, but we are concerned that rolling back the RFS obligation for refiners directly contradicts this work,” notes the lawmakers.
The letter was signed by Sens. Klobuchar, Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Reps. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, and Angie Craig, D-Minn., Mark Pocan, D-Wisc., Ron Kind, D-Wisc., David Scott, D-Ga., Lauren Underwood, D-Ill. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., and Ruben Gallego, D-Az.
Iowa Republican Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley also wrote to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on rumored plans to undercut the RFS.
Twenty members of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus, led by Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., also urged Biden to uphold his campaign commitment to protect the RFS. The letter claims they “remain concerned that any attempt to undermine the law as it relates to the RFS will damage our rural economies and harm our local farmers and biofuels producers.”
Move to E15
Skor also highlights during her testimony a new Growth Energy study conducted by ABF Economics which shows that nationwide adoption of E15, a high-performance 15% biofuel blend, could offer significant economic benefits to consumers and workers alike.
Authored by John M. Urbanchuk, managing partner of ABF Economics, the economic impact report indicates that nationwide access to E15 could add billions to the U.S. economy, generate greater household income, and save consumers money. Specifically, the data show that a nationwide transition to E15 would add $17.8 billion to the U.S. GDP; support an additional 182,600 jobs; generate $10.5 billion in new household income, and save consumers $12.2 billion in fuel costs.
“Nationwide use of E15 will expand ethanol production and require a substantial increase in new production capacity relative to current E10 use,” the study notes. “This expansion also will stimulate demand for agricultural feedstocks that will directly benefit farm income. The economic benefits from nationwide E15 use are significant increases in GDP, jobs supported in all sectors of the economy, household income and tax revenue.”
Biodiesel producers meet with legislators
The National Biodiesel Board delivered to Congressional leaders a letter signed by more than 50 companies outlining the industry's policy priorities. The priorities include maintaining tax incentives for low carbon biofuels, supporting infrastructure to deliver more clean fuels to consumers, and optimizing the RFS to maximize environmental benefits.
NBB delivered the letter as 71 industry representatives prepare to engage (through teleconferences) in 86 meetings with senators, representatives and staff in the annual NBB Advocacy Day Fly-in, Wednesday June 23.
The letter highlights the $17 billion annual economic impact of the biodiesel and renewable diesel industry, which employs more than 65,000 Americans. It also highlights the carbon benefits the industry delivers. In 2020, the United States used 3 billion gallons of renewable diesel and biodiesel, which achieves an average 74% reduction in carbon emissions compared to petroleum diesel. The industry also touted a recent study demonstrating the substantial reductions in healthcare costs and outcomes that communities can achieve by switching to biodiesel.
"The biodiesel and renewable diesel industry is poised for substantial growth and can deliver carbon reductions, healthcare savings and jobs. Biodiesel and renewable diesel have cut more than 140 million tons of carbon emissions since 2010, through the RFS program and other policies. As our members meet with senators and representatives this week, we'll be highlighting these benefits and asking them to support the continued growth of our industry and ask that they include them in any legislation addressing climate change, economic stimulus or infrastructure," says Kurt Kovarik, NBB vice president for federal affairs.