The Thanksgiving season allows us time to give thanks for those things that make our lives better, that give us joy and happiness or provide us with the opportunities to do so.
It is a very rare moment that people of opposing political views can give thanks for anything they might happen to agree upon. But ethanol has been one of those issues that you’ll find supporters on both sides of the aisle at every level. Ethanol has given our farmers a marketing source to sell their corn. Ethanol has displaced the need for foreign imports of oil by adding it to gasoline. Ethanol burns cleanly and helps reduce the individual carbon footprint that environmentalists have supported without hesitation.
And yet somehow proposed changes to federal rules being considered in Washington, D.C., has farmers and consumers, liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans scratching their collective heads.
By the end of the month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — the EPA — the same EPA that watches like hungry hawks pouncing on helpless prey whenever and wherever they can, striking with deadly force against its own people — will finalize rules around the Renewable Fuel Standard, a program which requires refiners to blend increasing volumes of biofuels into the U.S. gasoline supply each year.
The standard is considered one of the most successful federal programs in history, and for good reason.
In the 10 years that the standard has been in existence:
• Oil imports have been cut by one-third;
• The equivalent of 8.4 million cars have been removed from the road through the reduction of CO2 emissions;
• And more than several hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created directly and indirectly through Ethanol plants and production.
And after we have been able to use this renewable source and see its benefits, the EPA is proposing scaling back the volume of ethanol blended into the fuel supply. They say that gas consumption has declined, so should ethanol volumes. Beyond tampering with a federal program that actually works, such actions by the EPA send a chilling message of uncertainty to farmers across the nation and here in Ohio where ethanol plants dot the landscape and provide millions of dollars in economic development and growth.
The Ohio Corn Marketing Program will attest that ethanol has provided Ohio farmers some consistency when floods, droughts, poor soil conditions, up-and-down prices, have our corn producers living with uncertainty on a regular basis.
We know that fracking has had a great impact on Ohio, too, reducing even further our dependence on foreign oil. The economic impact fracking has had on Ohio has been a wonderful thing. So, these new-found resources also need a market — and wouldn’t it be soooo easy to simply remove the renewable fuel standard and drop “back in” the fossil-based supply.
But as corn growers are working to provide consistency and diversity for their product, too, and as we struggle to open up new markets through the TPP and other trade programs, the fact is ethanol and the use of ethanol in our gasoline blends in an opportunity for us to keep moving forward in our desire to have cleaner options.
Renewable fuels provide an environmentally clean, domestically produced fuel that will continue contribute to our independence from foreign oil. In addition, rural communities benefit from the additional jobs created because of the development of this industry.
Even as corn-ethanol production reaches record levels, governmental regulations, and a lack of infrastructure prohibit corn ethanol from fully competing against other fuels. We should support efforts to move away from a taxpayer-supported program to a market-based program. This free-market approach will allow for a domestic renewable fuel system that creates jobs, improves national security, and saves U.S. taxpayers money.
The Ohio ethanol, corn and wheat industries are working together, in conjunction with national industry organizations, to develop a long-term strategy focused on building the necessary infrastructure and increasing demand for corn ethanol and other biofuels. This new plan will address market-access barriers and could include such items as blender pumps at fueling stations and an increase in blending rates. Rates that are currently 5 to 10 percent, and maybe as high as 15 percent.
We are moving froward with a product that has proven itself and somehow, someway the EPA all of a sudden feels it’s necessary to step in and do a 180 on a policy that represents something we can all give thanks to regardless of your political beliefs.
Let’s hope we can cut the ties of the Big Oil Puppet Masters on the EPA and their political cronies by fighting back and demanding ethanol stay and move forward.
Here’s seeing you, in Ohio Country!
The writer is the owner of Wilson 1 Communications. He is an award-winning veteran broadcaster for more than 30 years and the co-host and producer of “In Ohio Country Today,” a nationally recognized television show, and offers radio commentary and ag reports including locally for 92.1, the Frog WFGF Lima.