On December 8 and 9, the American Council on Renewable Energy held the Phase II National Policy Forum on Capitol Hill to engage in open discussion and dialogue about a new, collaborative national renewable energy policy agenda. The two-day event featured a multitude of speakers, including members of Congress, representing various organizations, agencies, and industries. The panelists touched on key issues to explore a new, non-partisan renewable energy policy agenda to communicate to private capital markets the need for a national renewable energy scale-up.
Agriculture’s role in the renewable energy scale-up was discussed in a session entitled “The State of Renewable Energy in America”. Jeff Broin, president of POET, a U.S. biofuel company and world’s largest producer of renewable fuels, spoke about the current state and future of the U.S. ethanol industry. Broin began his remarks by speaking about the growth of the ethanol industry and its major role in the U.S. transportation fuels market. He said that the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent approval of the E15 blend for vehicles made since 2007 and on, is a step forward as it will allow more of the American car and light truck fleet to use a higher ethanol blend.
Broin emphasized the need for the U.S. to strive for eventual approval and use of 27% ethanol in the U.S. gasoline supply to meet renewable fuel standard (RFS) targets. Broin also made clear that POET will continue to concentrate on developing cellulosic ethanol production with the goal of contributing 3.5 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol to the RFS by 2022.
In the discussion following the session, Broin indicated that until the biofuel industry has more infrastructure to compete with oil, an extended tax credit for ethanol blenders to encourage biofuel production will be necessary. If the tax credit is phased out over a period of time, the money saved from the phase-out should be directed towards helping finance the needed infrastructure and new equipment such as blender pumps at gas stations to make higher ethanol blends available to motorists.
Based on the wide variety of key energy issues discussed during the forum and the amount of time dedicated to the dialogue about biofuels, it was evident that agriculture will play a strong role in a national renewable energy scale-up. To learn more about the forum and speakers, visit the forum webpage at: www.acorephaseii.com.