Industry Won't Let Ethanol Continue to be Scapegoat

Witness list brings questions from NCGA.

Published on: Jul 7, 2011

The House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Energy and Environment is holding a hearing Thursday on the Environmental Protection Agency's approval of using E-15 blends in vehicles made in 2001 and newer. There will be witness testimony from those against ethanol - but those from the ethanol industry weren't invited to participate. Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen calls the hearing a congressionally-sanctioned witch hunt for those with an axe to grind against farmers and ethanol producers.

Dinneen says the ethanol industry is ready to work through concerns expressed by automakers and fuel retailers about a new fuel being approved for retail, but exercises like this hearing only serve to sharpen rhetorical spears instead of finding common sense solutions. Ethanol is the only alternative to gasoline capable of putting downward pressure on today's rising oil prices. As oil prices show no signs of easing and continued unrest in oil-rich regions threaten national security, Dinneen says the need for renewable alternatives has never been greater. He says RFA is committed to finding solutions and welcomes dialogue with automakers to make sure they, along with consumers and gasoline retailers, are informed and comfortable about using higher level ethanol blends.

The National Corn Growers Association is wondering why a House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee invited people outside of the ethanol industry and ethanol research to testify at their hearing on E-15. NCGA President Bart Schott says the Environmental Protection Agency has been thorough in its work on the E-15 waiver request and several outside researchers have been evaluating and analyzing E-15 for a number of years. While he says EPA will have someone at the hearing to testify, the remainder of those on the witness list have a long-standing history of being critical of corn-based ethanol at any level.

Schott points out the multitude of research that not only defends the EPA's decision to allow E-15 as a fuel option for cars made in 2001 and newer, but looks at other blends and older cars. One study Schott cites is from September 2010 that found moving from E-10 to E-15 would mean little change in vehicle performance.

Schott says the hearing pretends to look at the science behind E-15, but NCGA has a hard time understanding what makes the National Chicken Council, or the Environmental Working Group scientific experts on the safety and efficiency of automotive fuels in modern internal combustion engines.