The public comment period on the Green Jobs waiver that Growth Energy filed with the Environmental Protection Agency last March ends Monday, July 20. The waiver request asks that the EPA remove the cap of 10% ethanol in gasoline and raise the limit to 15%.
"We think it's good for America's national security, we think it's good for energy security, and we think it's great for creating and keeping jobs right here in America," said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis during a press conference on Thursday. "We know it's better for the environment than gasoline and we think it is time to move forward."
Buis says there are a lot of excuses about why the U.S. can't move to a higher blend, but several other countries have done it, primarily Brazil. He cited a statement from last week by President Barrack Obama that if Brazil can do it the U.S. can do it.
Joining Growth Energy at the press conference was North American Equipment Dealers Association Vice President of Governmental Affairs Mike Williams. In June, on behalf of its 100,000 employees at over 5,000 retailers in both the U.S. and Canada, NAEDA submitted comments to the EPA supporting the Growth Energy Green Jobs waiver and request to raise the ethanol blend rate.
"We believe increasing the ethanol content to the 15% will in fact create green jobs, provide environmental benefits and will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil across the board," Williams said. "Obviously this has a big impact in rural life through the development of our natural resources, that is one of the points we really hang our hat on. The waiver also provides the necessary market for the new green industry and biofuels projects and as dealers we have a stake in sharing the success of this advancement of biofuels strategy going forward."
In a related development, governors from 10 Midwestern states have asked EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to increase the blending levels of ethanol to 15%. In a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm wrote that the Midwest has vast natural resources, the scientific know-how, and the skilled workforce necessary to lead the world in the production of climate-friendly biofuels. She said these strengths must be capitalized on in order to promote the use of low carbon fuels across the country. Granholm chairs the Midwestern Governors Association.
According to the letter allowing greater blending levels will increase demand for conventional ethanol, an entirely domestic energy source. However, without increasing the blending levels, the ability to meet the RFS is exceedingly difficult. The 2007 renewable fuel standard sets national goals for the amount of biofuels used in the country. These mandated levels in the RFS act as a valuable tool in moving toward advanced biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol.
South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds says increasing the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline is an important step that will have dramatic, positive effects on the advancement of the renewable fuels industry. In addition, increased use of ethanol and biofuels will lead to greater energy independence by utilizing homegrown commodities, materials and technologies.