Growth Energy Senior VP Lists Ethanol Policy Wins, But More Needs To Be Done

Source: By Mary Kennedy, Progressive Farmer • Posted: Monday, June 17, 2024

MINNEAPOLIS (DTN) — For the past 13 years, Chris Bliley has traveled around the country and the world meeting with people who shape the policies that have direct bearing on the bioethanol industry.

The past year’s policy wins for the ethanol industry show how his travel and work has paid off, but he also highlighted where more needs to be accomplished. He also stressed that reports of the bioethanol industry’s death because of electric vehicles have been greatly exaggerated.

“In every meeting, I make the case that policies that make sense for bioethanol make sense for everyone. I can tell you they are listening,” Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Chris Bliley said during his keynote address June 11 to what is billed as the largest ethanol conference in the world. The International Fuel Ethanol Workshop is produced by Ethanol Producer Magazine and organized by BBI International. The 40th annual conference wrapped up last week in Minneapolis with more than 2,400 industry attendees.

POLICY WINS

“Think about our policy wins in the last year alone. Last summer, we got the highest-ever blending obligations in the RFS set. We’ve been able to secure year-round access for E15 both last summer and yet again for this summer. Six straight years of summer access to E15. In February, EPA finally heeded the call from governors in the Midwest to allow permanent, year-round sales in eight states,” said Bliley.

He continued to highlight the successes. “Our efforts led the Treasury Department to use a lower land-use change value for the 40B Sustainable Aviation Fuel model and recognize carbon reductions both at the plant and on the farm. This is not insignificant,” he stressed.

“It is a critical milestone in making bioethanol competitive in the market for sustainable aviation fuel. And I’ll note we notched these achievements with a great deal of help. From Secretary (Tom) Vilsack at USDA and from a committed, bipartisan group of congressional champions, who have consistently had our back,” he said.

But these aren’t all total victories, Bliley added. “It’s great to see progress on E15 emergency waivers and the so-called eight-state opt-out. But we know, ultimately, we need a permanent, national solution. We also know Washington didn’t get it entirely right on 40B, and has far more work to do for 45Z.”

For reference, the 40BSAF-GREET 2024 model calculates emissions from two production pathways: hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids (HEFA production pathway) and alcohol-to-jet ATJ-ethanol pathway. Section 45Z provides a production tax credit (PTC) for clean fuels produced after Dec. 31, 2024, and before Jan. 1, 2028, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service.

CLIMATE-SMART AGRICULTURE

Bliley also talked about climate-smart agriculture policies.

“For those using climate-smart agriculture to reduce carbon intensity, unfortunately, the guidance requires use of all three specific ag practices together. But the reality is, many farmers only use one or two. And requiring farmers to bundle all of those practices is self-defeating. Because that rarely makes sense,” added Bliley.

“But this is all just the beginning of a longer process where policymakers recognize bioethanol’s critical importance to America’s economic opportunity,” he said.

“If you look around at the industry today, there are objectively good reasons to be bullish about our future. It starts with this: Carbon is the new currency, and if carbon is the new currency, there is a huge opportunity ahead for our core business in the liquid fuels market.”

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

He continued to explain why it’s still bullish for the ethanol industry, even with the policies supporting the use of more electric vehicles.

“I know folks are concerned about electric vehicles. Plenty has been written about the threat they pose to liquid fuels, and I’ve seen the articles saying our industry’s days are numbered. But to paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated,” said Bliley.

“Take a look at the policies rolling out across the country, and it’s clear as day. What you and I have known for a long time is finally resonating with policymakers everywhere. In a world where carbon is the new currency, bioethanol can be a difference maker; and thanks to you, the potential is only rising. Think about the markets we’ve entered that didn’t exist 20 years ago. And all the value streams we’ve unlocked along the way. It’s been a great two decades. And I’m betting the next two will be even more transformative. The future of homegrown bioethanol is bright because of you!” concluded Bliley.

This year’s conference included three co-located events: the Biodiesel Summit: Sustainable Aviation Fuel & Renewable Diesel; the Carbon Capture & Storage Summit; and the annual pre-conference event, Ethanol 101.

Here is a link to Bliley’s entire speech:

Link to Section 40B of the Inflation Reduction Act:

Link to Section 45Z of the Inflation Reduction Act:

Mary Kennedy can be reached at

Follow her on social platform X @MaryCKenn

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