Jan 17, 2023
By Geoff Cooper
In 2022, the U.S. ethanol industry regained the same sort of momentum that fueled its remarkable growth following passage of the Renewable Fuel Standard 17 years ago. Just look at what we were able to accomplish last year: In December, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed RFS volumes through 2025 that provide certainty and an opportunity for growth. The agency also put an end to abusive small refiner exemptions that had decimated RFS demand for years and established a pathway for ethanol to serve as a “biointermediate” feedstock for new applications like sustainable aviation fuel. At the direction of President Biden, EPA also provided emergency waivers allowing the summertime use of E15, while also committing to make E15 more broadly available to consumers across the country by the summer of 2023. At the same time, USDA finalized rules enabling ethanol producers to access $700 million in COVID relief funding and expanded the HBIIP program, providing resources for gasoline marketers wanting to provide E15 and flex fuels like E85 to consumers.
On Capitol Hill, the Inflation Reduction Act adopted in August heralded new tax incentives for sustainable aviation fuels, established a Clean Fuel Production Credit, enhanced the 45Q carbon capture credit, and appropriated another $500 million for higher ethanol blend infrastructure. Other bills that would establish a growing role for high-octane, low-carbon fuels—including the Next Generation Fuels Act—attracted growing support in both parties and both chambers of Congress. In an important development, we also gained a crucial new ally in our work toward making E15 available year-round, the American Petroleum Institute. With the API’s support, we saw the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act filed in both the House and Senate with momentum building for a permanent solution.
In the marketplace, ethanol production, demand and exports all continued to rebound from the pandemic malaise. That’s real momentum, and the Renewable Fuels Association will continue to build on the successes of last year while we move our industry to new levels this year.
In 2023, RFA will continue to pursue policy and regulatory solutions that provide parity for E15, allowing year-round accessibility for consumers and to reduce costs at the pump. We still believe that the secret to sustained success in the ethanol industry lies in the ability to reduce carbon emissions and pursing policies promoting and incentivizing low carbon fuels at the pump, such as E15, E20/30 and E85.
As exciting as last year’s successes are, RFA and the ethanol industry are poised for even more success in 2023. As we move forward this year, RFA members will continue living our pledge to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and lead efforts here and abroad in expanding market opportunities for ethanol. We look forward to showcasing our annual National Ethanol Conference with well-known industry leaders and presenters at the end of February in Orlando. Our conference topics reflect on the past year and the continued momentum going into 2023 with a very appropriate theme—Ready. Set. Go!
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