Here at POET, and throughout the entire ethanol industry, we talk about the importance of making our voices heard. I’m sure many of you have asked a time or two if it even makes a difference? Do lawmakers in Washington, D.C. read these hand-written comments? Does the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) open the emails we’ve sent or listen to the voicemail messages we’ve left?
I write today to tell you: YES. Yes, lawmakers in D.C. heard you. The EPA and the Obama Administration heard you. How do I know this? Because on November 30, the EPA announced it was officially breaking the blend wall – the same blend wall we have all been working to tear down for years!
As part of its responsibility under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the EPA recently released its final Renewable Volume Obligation numbers for 2014, 2015 and 2016. This final rule increased the amount of renewable fuel by over 700 million gallons compared to its May proposal. In 2016, 18.11 billion gallons of renewable fuel will be blended into the fuel supply, making that amount more than 10% of the total market supply. Breaking the blend wall creates a path for higher blends of ethanol, like E15.
We know E15 is gaining traction in convenience stores across the country. Not only is the fuel currently available at more than 120 stations in 18 states, but Prime the Pump is working with dozens of major retailers to install E15 and flex pumps at more than 700 locations in 21 states.
While the blend wall has been officially eliminated once and for all, these renewable volume obligations still fall below what is written in the RFS. We have been vocal that POET and the industry disagree with the legality of the methodology used by the EPA to determine these volumes. If you are involved in agriculture, you know that the only solution to utilize growing commodity supplies and raise commodity prices is more ethanol in gasoline. As a company, POET will continue to work hard to demonstrate not only to the Administration and Congress, but to the nation, that ethanol is a key and vital component in reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and combating climate change. We also all need to remind our leaders that ethanol is critical to the future of agriculture.
I look forward to breaking the blend wall in 2016 but I am also excited to see industry initiatives, like Prime the Pump, work to take the future into our own hands. Because if we expect to see rapid growth in our industry, ethanol producers, ag companies and farmers will have to lead the way. Big Oil continues to have unprecedented influence in Washington and knowing that, we can’t expect Congress or the EPA to do the heavy lifting. If we rest on our laurels, I can assure you we will see slow growth in ethanol accompanied by a difficult ag economy for many years.
Thanks to each one of you for telling your personal story to the EPA about how our industry is making a difference in your life and our country’s future. I can say without a doubt that we all had a big impact in reaching this final decision at EPA. There will be other battles ahead. While we should all be proud of our collective effort to stand up to Big Oil and defend the Renewable Fuel Standard, we need to get back to work to ensure a bright future for ethanol and agriculture. We will not claim victory until E15 and mid-level blends are in every single pump across our nation!