Ethanol supporters: Hearing ‘one-sided’

Source: Written by Christopher Doering, Argus Leader • Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013

House panel testimony comes only from foes

WASHINGTON — The ethanol industry criticized a U.S. House subcommittee for holding a “one-sided” hearing on a higher ethanol blend with testimony only from opponents who have spoken against the corn-based fuel.

The hearing Tuesday in the House Science Subcommittee on the Environment consisted of testimony from the head of the American Automobile Association, a vice president with the American Motorcyclist Association and a member of the board of directors from the Coordinating Research Council, a nonprofit that has the American Petroleum Institute, Ford and General Motors as its members.

Responding letters

“This hearing appears to be in line with several other hearings you have held over the past two years regarding mid-level ethanol blends and specifically E15,” Tom Buis, chief executive of Growth Energy, said in a letter to the House Science subcommittee. “We are concerned that these hearings have only presented one side of the story only highlighting witnesses who have been some of our most vocal critics and have failed to include any representatives of the ethanol production industry.”

In a separate letter, Bob Dinneen, head of the Renewable Fuel Association, said the panel’s hearing on the “science” of ethanol and specifically the newer E15 blend “seems inexplicably one-sided and devoid of impartial discourse about the science.” E15 is a blend of motorfuel that contains 15 percent of the corn-based fuel.

The ethanol groups told the subcommittee in their letters that E15 is a voluntary fuel and there is no mandate requiring retailers to sell or consumers to purchase it. The trade groups also touted the safety of E15 in automobiles and noted the savings consumers see at the pump because of ethanol.

Growth Energy cited a recent Louisiana State University study that estimated the fuel saved U.S. drivers 83 cents a gallon in 2011.

Panel’s response

An aide with the House Science Committee defended the witnesses that were invited.

“The hearing is not about corn growers or the ethanol industry — it is to examine the potential impact of E15 on engines and fuel supply infrastructure, and identify associated research needs,” the aide said. “The witnesses we invited have expertise on and concerns with these issues.”