Ricketts Highlights Economic Benefit of Ethanol-Blended Fuels, Risk of Prioritizing Electric Vehicles
February 15, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Pete Ricketts (R-NE) highlighted the economic benefits of ethanol-blended fuels and expressed his concerns with a clean fuel standard that could prioritize electric vehicles.
In his exchange with Geoff Cooper, President & CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, at the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing, Ricketts touted the positive impact ethanol-blended fuels have on the Nebraska economy and outlined the threat regulations that favor electric vehicles would have on consumer budgets as well as the American supply chain and energy independence – given the Chinese Communist Party’s dominant role in global production.
Watch the exchange here and read a transcript below.
Senator Ricketts: “I always say three things: ethanol saves consumers money at the pump, it is going to help clean up the environment, and it is going to create jobs here in America.
“Ethanol must be central to any discussion that we’re going to have about the future of transportation fuels…
“E10, that 10% blend of ethanol, 90% gasoline, is about 98% of all the gasoline sold in this country.
“E15 and the EPA’s decision to allow that last summer, helps with the high inflation that people are experiencing. Bringing down their fuel costs. Senator Stabenow mentioned the dollar, I think the average is about 16 cents. I just filled up my gas last time I was home, it was like 40-45 cents a gallon on E10.
“And of course, E20, E30, E85, as you mentioned, all have future potential on that.
“But also, as we’ve discussed, about ethanol helping to reduce carbon emissions, the use of ethanol blended fuels led to a reduction of nearly 1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2020.
“Environmental Health & Engineering found that corn ethanol is 46% less carbon intensive than gasoline.
“In addition, ethanol creates economic opportunities for our families, especially in Nebraska. There’s over 1,000 direct jobs in Nebraska related to the ethanol industry. And it creates the demand for corn from our farmers. I would also note the byproduct goes to feed our livestock. So, it is a wonderful thing there.
“And ethanol has always fueled our trucks, cars, and other transportation vehicles along American roads and highways.
“So, Mr. Cooper, I want you to talk a little bit more about how this administration, as well as the State of California, have classified electric vehicles as ‘zero emissions.’ Biofuels are considered “low emissions.” How would a national Clean Fuel Standard impact the use of biofuels and this new CFS, how would it work with RFS, the renewable fuel standard, would it replace it, would it coexist, how would that work?”
Cooper: “… We certainly believe that an LCFS, or clean fuel standard, done right at the national level would complement a renewable fuel standard. Again, the RFS was primarily about volume, right? And energy independence and reducing imports. A clean fuel standard is more directly about reducing emissions and based on performance. So, we do think the two would work together very well, complement one another.
“And, as I mentioned earlier, the RFS was really that bedrock and kind of the foundation for the renewable fuels industry, and it’s important to keep that foundation in place. So, we do think the two would work together.
“And then in terms of how the biofuels industry would respond to a clean fuel standard, we expect that it would be similar in ways to the response in the California marketplace and in Oregon. It’s been interesting to see some of the different ways that the markets have responded to those programs in those states. As I mentioned, the E85 market in California is off the charts. They’re using more E85 in that state than any other state in the country as an outcome of the low carbon fuel standard.
“They’re also one of the last two states that hasn’t yet approved E15. Well, guess what? They’re moving toward approval of E15 because the market is calling for it via the LCFS.
“So, we do believe a properly designed clean fuel standard, and again doing lifecycle analysis correctly, would drive increased use of ethanol and other renewable fuels above and beyond what is called for under the renewable fuel standard.”
Ricketts: “And I think we’ve talked about a little bit here. I’m concerned that any national clean fuels program could prioritize electric vehicles over liquid fuels, including clean biofuels. And this will only make us more dependent on our foreign adversaries who control a majority of the worldwide production of several key components.
“For example, the CCP, Chinese Communist Party, controls 60% of the raw lithium mines in the world, 50% of lithium processing and refining, and 75% of the lithium-ion battery mega-factories.
“How can you ensure that a new national low carbon fuel standard won’t falsely prop up EVs to satisfy an agenda and do significant damage to liquid fuels including biofuels in the process?”
Cooper: “…Again, if the life cycle analysis is done correctly and carbon intensity scores are developed in a fair and transparent way, we believe that renewable fuels are going to compete very well with electric vehicles in terms of the carbon reductions that they provide. And as the ranking member mentioned, internal combustion engines and conventional vehicles are for less expensive than EVs.
“And so again, if you step out of the way and let the market respond to these carbon reduction requirements, we think it’s going to drive the market toward increased use of renewable fuels – which are the lowest cost option of meeting these carbon reduction requirements.
“Now, if you stack on top of that an EV mandate, or something like that like California’s trying to do, then that changes the calculation immensely. But we, again, think a truly technology-neutral standard is going to put renewable fuels in a very competitive position.”