ACE and Minnesota Congressional Leadership Kick Off Annual Ethanol Conference in Minneapolis
Posted on 08/19/2021
The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) 34th annual conference kicked off in Minneapolis today with remarks from U.S. Representative Angie Craig (MN-02) and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), as well as updates from the organization’s leadership, including ACE Board President Dave Sovereign, representing Iowa-based Golden Grain Energy, ACE CEO Brian Jennings, and ACE Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty.
Rep. Craig’s remarks touched on legislation she’s helped introduce to support the ethanol industry and how she’s working to get them included in upcoming legislative vehicles in Congress, including bills to allow for the year-round sale of E15, to provide funding for biofuel infrastructure, and to get the RFS back on track. She spoke to how ethanol has uplifted rural communities, saying “family farmers in my district depend on biofuels,” and “ethanol drives growth across rural America.”
Rep. Craig reiterated how she’ll continue to fight to ensure Congress and the administration recognize ethanol’s low carbon benefits. “Ethanol, biodiesel, biofuels are not way off in the future to help us reduce carbon emissions, they are the here and now,” she told the crowd, adding she “recently spoke with EPA Administrator Regan to let him know the EPA needs to issue robust RVO targets for 2021 and 2022, and it needs to do it as quickly as possible.”
Sen. Klobuchar provided a pre-recorded video addressing the conference crowd. “Investing in biofuels isn’t just good for our farmers, it’s good for our economy,” Senator Klobuchar stated. “In 2019, my home state’s 18 biofuel plants contributed more than $2 billion to our GDP, generating billions more in revenue for Minnesota businesses and household income while supporting 19,000 jobs.”
Sen. Klobuchar’s taped remarks touched on several bills she helped introduce this year, including legislation to restore integrity to the RFS, allow year-round E15 sales, and provide incentives for retailers to sell higher ethanol blends and for automakers to resume the production of flexible fuel vehicles. Sen. Klobuchar emphasized the importance of funding for biofuel infrastructure, mentioning the infrastructure package that just passed the Senate and will now be considered by the House of Representatives. The next infrastructure bill “better have money for blender pumps,” she stated, adding that she’s “fighting hard, working with Senator Stabenow, to make sure that happens. ACE has been an invaluable partner in elevating these issues and I look forward to continuing to work together to get things done.”
Sovereign opened his remarks by thanking everyone for attending and highlighting the importance of public education on how renewable fuels can and are playing a role in our future and environment. “I am likely preaching, as they say, to the choir here a bit, but it is ever so crucial now for all of us to be involved in the discussions as biofuel policy decisions are being developed,” Sovereign said.
Jennings remarks underscored ACE’s work over the past few years to elevate the low carbon benefits of ethanol, while recognizing the roadblocks and detours the industry has encountered along the way, including abuse of the RFS small refinery exemption program, a global pandemic, back-to-back courtroom losses, and irrational exuberance of electric vehicles.
“…ACE has been highlighting how climate-smart farming practices, efficiencies at ethanol plants, and the capture and sequestration of biogenic CO2 from facilities puts ethanol on a trajectory to reach both net-zero and net-negative emissions — a trajectory that is unique to ethanol,” Jennings stated in his remarks, adding that ACE has also “helped mobilize diverse coalitions comprised of some environmental groups and electric vehicle advocates to pursue new technology-neutral clean fuel policies at the state and federal level that will ensure a growing market for low carbon ethanol even as overall petroleum use declines.”
Lamberty discussed ACE’s current market development focus on fuel marketers who already have E15 compatible equipment but didn’t know it, because “widespread E15 use can only happen with widespread conversion of existing stations.” At ACE’s virtual conference last September ACE launched Flex Check, an E15 compatibility tool on flexfuelforward.com where retailers can check to see if they’re already compatible with E15 and could drop it in at any time. He provided an update on the response to the tool.
“Over 31,500 users have landed on the Flex Check compatibility tool web page since last September – which is mostly the result of over 3 million impressions we’ve made with carefully targeted online ads, along with other advertising we’ve run in c-store industry publications and on their websites,” Lamberty said. “But it’s also due to being noticed by some powerful people.”
The Environmental Protection Agency cited Flex Check in their proposed rule on E15 Fuel Dispenser Labeling and Compatibility with Underground Storage Tanks (UST) earlier this year, and in May, EPA added it to its UST website as a resource.
This morning’s opening remarks were followed by a general session panel covering developments in key states and national efforts to advance a low carbon clean fuel standard, and a timely discussion for ethanol producers addressing volatility in commodity markets, crush margins, and strategies for staying profitable while balancing the demands on working capital. Visit ethanol.org/events/conference/ for more about the agenda and speakers, and the virtual newsroom for updates live from the event.