Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen spoke to a room of ethanol industry professionals Tuesday at the Fuel Ethanol Workshop in Minneapolis, Minn., calling for increased vigilance and awareness of legislative and "big oil" efforts to decrease ethanol production and use.
Delivering the conference's keynote address, Dinneen told attendees to prepare for backlash over EPA approval of E15 in vehicles made after 2001.
"The oil industry will do anything to keep E15 from the marketplace. There will be lots of stories about how 'E15 has ruined my radiator,' or 'E15 makes my windshield wipers go twice the speed,'…but this will be the misinformation you will hear," Dinneen said. "Brace yourselves, because it will be brutal."
Dinneen said the ethanol industry is relying on its processors and manufacturers to explain the "truth" about ethanol, and support the Renewable Fuels Standard.
"If there is ever a program the U.S. has had to make this country more energy secure, to create economic opportunity, to clean the nation's air, to address global warming, it’s the RFS," he said.
Dinneen called the program a huge success, and said when the RFS was first enacted in 2005, the U.S. was 60% dependent on foreign oil, compared to today's 45% dependence.
But, Dinneen warned that action by big oil and legislators may threaten the RFS, especially an effort to evaluate the RFS and the ethanol industry led by Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.).
"We cannot allow the oil industry to undermine [the RFS],"he said. "And they will most certainly try."
Dinneen said Inhofe's "Seed to Wheels" analysis should not only examine the impact of the RFS and ethanol, but also examine a "War to Wheels" analysis of oil.
"We are sick and tired of our dependence on foreign oil. Wouldn't it be great if we were creating economic opportunity here?" Dinneen asked. "Sure—that's what the [RFS] has done."
Dinneen said that though the debate over the RFS and ethanol production is heated, he believes the true motive behind RFS opponents is the up-and-coming technologies that will allow large-scale production of cellulosic ethanol.
He said opponents of the RFS are looking for ways to stop the progress of cellulosic ethanol before it hits the market, and stopping the success of the RFS is one way to do that.
Those opponents, Dinneen said, don't understand that the U.S. can't "frack" its way to energy independence.
"They forget somehow that we have created a tremendous industry providing unbelievable environmental, economic and energy benefits for this country above the ground," Dinneen said.
He vowed to remain strong against challengers, and encouraged conference attendees to do the same.
"Keep doing what you are doing, keep producing the juice," Dinneen said. "We will just continue to grow, continue to provide the benefits that we do for this country."