Renewable Fuels Battling Climate Change

Renewable Fuels Battling Climate Change

Decarbonizing the transportation sector is one of the key steps in mitigating climate change. The Next Generation Fuels Act introduced earlier this year in Congress is a good step toward accomplishing that goal. Kathy Bergren is the director of public policy and renewable fuels for the National Corn Growers Association. She says the bill is important for the environment, and the NCGA is working hard to educate lawmakers on its benefits.

“It enables more decarbonization per gallon of fuel and would replace the most toxic components of gasoline with cleaner ethanol, would put more fuel-efficient vehicles on the road, and really offer drivers a wider range of affordable low-carbon options. Corn growers have been contacting their members of Congress about this legislation to kind of help encourage them to support it and to help grow that support, and just really show that how this legislation would help build on the success of the RFS, really taking advantage of ethanol’s low-carbon and high-octane properties to clean up our fuel and improve vehicles over time.” 

The ethanol industry is still waiting for the Environmental Protection Agency to announce the Renewable Volume Obligations.

“That certainly is important for keeping the certainty in that program and sending a signal on renewable fuels blending for the year ahead. So, Corn Growers message to the EPA has been a strong RFS volume proposal that really helps support the Biden administration’s commitment to reducing emissions and lowering fuel prices. For corn growers, a strong RFS means continuing to imply a requirement of 15 billion gallons of ethanol. Unfortunately, there certainly has been a lot of delays, and I’m not really sure what the current timing looks like as we get further into the fall; that timing is a growing concern.” 

Gas prices are as high as they’ve been in years. She says ethanol has a role in helping to solve that problem.

“Ethanol is priced lower than unblended gasoline, so blending more ethanol is an immediate way to extend the fuel supply and lower prices for drivers. Blending more of that lower-priced component is going to bring down the price. And certainly, an immediate a way that is available to drivers in a lot of areas right now is simply choosing a 15 percent ethanol blend. E15 often marketed as Unleaded 88, kind of depending on where you’re at, you could save up to 10 cents a gallon today just by making that choice at the pump.” 

She says farmers need to have those numbers as soon as possible.

“Farmers are certainly looking to see those renewable fuel volume numbers coming out; that’s important. I think we felt like the new EPA started the year on the right track by committing to take a new direction on refinery exemptions and getting the RFS back on track. And certainly, we knew they had some cleanup work to do, but certainly, it is time to start seeing those actions, so, we kind of hope to see those things soon.”