Article Published by RealClear Energy January 29, 2024
The winter months are well underway, bringing cooler weather and the excitement of a new year. This time serves as a reminder of the goals we’ve set in 2023, and the effort we’ve given to see them through.
There is one goal, however, that still needs our attention in 2024: securing a cleaner future for our nation. To move us forward in this pursuit, Congress must add prioritizing renewable fuels like ethanol to its list of new year’s resolutions.
Ethanol, made from corn produced by farmers throughout America, is a commonsense solution to enhancing U.S. energy security, providing price stability at the gas pump and supporting a more sustainable future. In fact, an analysis from the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory finds this renewable fuel results in up to 52% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline.
Today, nearly every gallon of gasoline in the U.S. contains at least 10% ethanol, and by expanding the marketplace with permanent access to higher blends, we can help increase our nation’s fuel supply and strengthen energy independence.
Last summer, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted consumers access to this lower-cost, lower-emission fuel choice by issuing an emergency fuel waiver for E15 sales—fuel blended with 15% ethanol and often labeled as Unleaded 88.
Providing this access during the busy summer driving months was a step in the right direction for America’s clean energy future, but ethanol is not just a short-term fix, it is a long-term solution that must be made accessible all year, every year.
With that in mind, last year, eight Midwest governors took initiative and used existing authority to develop a plan that would require lower-volatility gasoline in their states, with the goal of ensuring their residents have year-round access to E15. Just before the holidays, the EPA took a welcome step in moving this request forward, sending it to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Year-round E15 provides consumers with access to a more affordable, environmentally friendly choice at the pump, while granting retailers who offer E15 much needed certainty.
That’s why Congress must pass the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act, legislation that would permanently remove outdated barriers to E15, providing uninterrupted access to this low-carbon fuel.
At the same time, Congress can take action to further support our nation’s long-term energy security and emissions reduction goals by passing the Next Generation Fuels Act, a critical solution that would establish a clean, low carbon, high octane standard for gasoline, improve vehicle fuel efficiency and increase fuel supply through the expansion of higher ethanol blends at the pump.
Passing these bipartisan pieces of legislation is not only an environmental win, but also an economic one.
We’ve seen firsthand how renewable fuels like ethanol benefit consumers. Since the beginning of 2022, drivers have saved an average of 25 cents per gallon by filling up with E15, rather than regular unleaded gasoline.
In fact, expanding the availability of higher ethanol blends like E15 could save Americans $20.6 billion in annual fuel costs, and generate an additional $36.3 billion in income and support 188,000 jobs.
Ethanol is the kind of long-term solution we need to achieve our shared energy, environmental and economic goals.
As we hit the ground running already in 2024, celebrate the start of a new year and begin working towards our resolutions, it is important for policymakers to prioritize America’s clean energy future and take action to see all of ethanol’s benefits through.
Neil Caskey is the CEO of the National Corn Growers Association, representing thousands of corn growers throughout the country. Caskey has more than a decade of experience advocating for agricultural issues.