The Senate Ag Committee held a hearing on Tuesday on titled “Renewable Energy—Growth and Opportunities for Rural Economies.” Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), chair of the Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy gave opening comments.
“Some of the best opportunities and best ideas for building a strong rural economy are in clean energy,” said Smith. “Renewable energy is rural energy. The clean energy transition is a cornerstone to building and sustaining economic vitality in rural communities. Biodiesel and ethanol are low-carbon fuels and they get greener every year and become a more economic and viable alternative to fossil fuels.”
“EIA projects gasoline or flex fuel-powered vehicles will make up about 80 percent of new vehicle sales in 2050, meaning the vast majority of the cars on the road will continue to be powered by liquid fuels for decades to come,” said Skor. “We know there is no one-size-fits-all path toward decarbonization, which is why biofuels remain essential in any effective transition away from fossil fuels.”
Skor spoke to ethanol’s environmental benefits.
“Ethanol today reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 46 percent compared to traditional gasoline,” she said. “Moving our nation’s standard fuel from E10 to E15, a 15 percent ethanol blend, will deliver substantial greenhouse gas emission reductions—the equivalent of removing nearly 4 million vehicles from the road each year.”
She also touted economic benefits.
“The industry supports more than 300,000 American jobs, many based in rural communities,” said Skor. “Today, Growth Energy is releasing a new study which shows that a nationwide move to E15 will add $17.8 billion to U.S. GDP, support more than 182,000 additional jobs, generate $10.5 in new household income, and save consumers $12.2 billion in fuel costs.”
To achieve all of these goals, Skor said there needs to be increased access to higher blends of ethanol.
“The BIP and HBIP programs administered under Secretaries Vilsack and Perdue significantly expanded markets for higher ethanol blends,” she said. “Any infrastructure package considered by Congress should build upon these successes to further promote investment in low-carbon biofuels. We strongly support efforts by those on this subcommittee to provide such incentives for E15 and higher blends. Growing the share of renewable biofuels in America’s fuel supply is crucial to achieving zero emissions and promoting high-paying, clean energy jobs in rural America. To do this, we must have a strong RFS.”
There have been reports that the Biden administration is considering relief for refineries that aren’t blending biofuels. Skor said it would backtrack on promises made on the campaign trail.
“Lowering, waiving, capping or any backtracking on the promise of the RFS damages our ability to decarbonize our vehicle fleet, threatens large agricultural markets, and jeopardizes hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs supported by the biofuel industry.”