Finding the balance: how renewable fuels and ag can come together to support rural economies

Renewable energy is expected to play a large role in the administration’s plan to reduce carbon emissions. The House Ag Committee heard from industry leaders about what that might look like for the rural economy.

With rumors of lower biofuel blending volumes from the EPA circulating in Washington, renewable fuels producers continue their call for support.

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says that ethanol is an important tool to keep gas prices affordable.

According to Skor, “This year according to the EIA the retail price of gasoline has gone up by a dollar per gallon, that is a hard hit for working Americans in all 50 states. So, with a strong Renewable Fuel Standard that encourages and really requires more blending of biofuels, with year round sales of E-15, that’s how we can really support drivers and make sure that we are managing fuel costs appropriately.”

Gary Wheeler, Executive Director of the Missouri Soybean Association, says that producers are building out more crush facilities to ensure that there is enough soybean oil to meet demand for both food manufacturing and growing demand for biodiesel.

“Farmers, we continue to try to build this out and protect our current infrastructure within the biodiesel industry,” he states. “There’s definitely going to be enough production, as far as when it comes to the soybean and the soybean oil and we are here to stand and support it.”

Although, Jeff Pratt, representing the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, says that renewable energy expansion is facing the same supply chain challenges as many other industries.

“Some of the regulations and supply chain issues associated with that country are creating bottlenecks to receive the materials that we need to propagate more solar in the United States, but it goes beyond that. It’s wire, it’s substations, it’s equipment critical not only to solar but the rest of the electrical infrastructure as well,” Pratt states.

Georgia Congressman Austin Scott raised concerns about renewable energy having potential negative effects on agriculture, like replacing crops with solar panels or clear-cutting forests to limit shade, but Pratt says that it is important to find a balance for both.

“We should have thousands of sheep on our farms, on solar farms going forward in the future,” Pratt adds. “It’s not the same as forest land but it’s a crop and it is a financial benefit for agriculture and we hope to find those right balances and work hard to do so.”

Biofuel groups also encourage lawmakers to support the President’s Build Back Better agenda, which includes $1 billion dollars to expand pump infrastructure and increase production of higher-blends of ethanol and biodiesel.


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