Growth Energy’s wishlist for 2021

The latest ethanol report out this week shows demand is at a five month low, suggesting that its recovery is being threatened by the surging cases of COVID-19.

It has been a challenging year for Growth Energy, but the group is looking ahead to 2021, rolling out its agenda.

Growth Energy looks to expand access to ethanol, boost trade, and help the industry recover from low demand. CEO Emily Skor says that restoring integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard is critical for producers.

According to Skor, “It’s one of our top priorities going into 2021, as we’re looking at some new leadership coming into Washington DC. We’ve got to deny refinery exemption waiver requests, make sure we have blending obligations finalized that lean in on ethanol and a few other rulemakings we need to see come out of this agency as well.”

The Trump administration allowed year round use of E-15 blends, but access is still limited with only 1 percent of U.S. fuel stations offering the higher blend rate.

Growth Energy is calling on the EPA to clarify rules that hinder expansion: “We need to clarify the rules regarding the storage and dispensing of fuels. The President tweeted in September that he wanted to make it easy. So, whatever infrastructure you have in place, you should be able to use that for E-15. That’s something the EPA could clarify with a rule making, it would eliminate a lot of red tape and it would be a real big boost to the fuel economy and to the rural economy.”

She says that updating consumer labels at the pump is another way to build E-15 demand.

“95 percent of the cars on the road today can use E-15 and there is labeling when you go to the pump that is confusing for the consumers, there’s no need for it so we need to remove that. We also just need to continue funding infrastructure expansion,” Skor states. “USDA handed out several million dollars in grants earlier this year, Growth Energy was able to secure $30 million in grants for retailers to build out the infrastructure they need for higher blends.”

Global demand is another priority for Growth Energy. Ethanol exports are down 10 percent from last year, largely due to the coronavirus around the world, but Skor says that breaking down tariff barriers would support trade.

“China right now has a 45 percent tariff on ethanol,” she adds. “We haven’t shipped ethanol to China in 33 months and that is a multi-billion dollar, multi-billion gallon market opportunity for us. Brazil has a tariff rate quota in place that we want to make sure-- all we want at the end of the day is a free, fair agreement where it’s a level playing field and we have free market access to and from our partner countries and with that we’ll really be able to thrive in the global marketplace.”

Growth Energy is also working with Congress on potential COVID-19 relief for ethanol producers, who have so far been left out of stimulus packages.


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