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Biofuels interests remind administration of ethanol’s role as low carbon solution available today.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

August 6, 2021

3 Min Read
Zero CO2 emissions iStock1154356567.jpg
STRIVING FOR ZERO EMISSIONS: President Biden set an ambitious new target to make half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 zero-emissions vehicles, including battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric, or fuel cell electric vehicles. But ethanol wants to be part of the solution today. iStock

President Joe Biden outlined a new national target for the adoption of electric vehicles in an announcement Thursday, calling for them to represent half of all new vehicle sales by 2030. However, biofuels groups continued to remind the administration the role that low carbon fuels such as ethanol can play in the remaining transportation fleet.

Despite pioneering the technology, a White House fact sheet notes the U.S. is behind in the race to manufacture electric vehicles and the batteries that go in them. Today, the U.S. market share of electric vehicle sales is only one-third that of the Chinese electric vehicle market. The White House announcement coincides with promises from automakers, representing nearly the entire U.S. auto market who have positioned around the goal of reaching 40 to 50% electric vehicle sales share in 2030.

Even if half of new vehicles sold in 2030 are electric, four out of every five cars on the road that year will still have internal combustion engines that require liquid fuels, shares Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper.

“We agree with the Biden administration that action needs to be taken now to begin aggressively reducing GHG emissions from transportation. But decarbonizing our nation’s fuels and vehicles is going to take an all-of-the-above approach that stimulates growth in all available low-carbon technologies,” Cooper says.

RFA says the overarching goal should be to “reach net-zero emissions as quickly as possible without dictating the pathway to get there or putting all of our eggs into one technology basket.

“We believe any plan to decarbonize the transportation sector should recognize the massive opportunity for low-carbon liquid fuels like ethanol to reduce GHG emissions from internal combustion engines in the near term,” he adds.

Last month, RFA’s ethanol producer members pledged to President Biden that they would ensure ethanol achieves a net-zero carbon footprint, on average, by 2050 or sooner. “We are already well on the way to net-zero with ethanol, and we encourage the Biden administration to embrace and promote renewable fuels as an important component of the nation’s decarbonization strategy,” explains Cooper.

American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Brian Jennings shares nearly 100% of all U.S. light-duty vehicles on the road today use liquid fuels. A recent analysis from the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory shows that today’s ethanol reduces GHG emissions by more than half compared to gasoline.

“If we want to get serious about tackling climate change sooner rather than later, government officials and automakers ought to be taking steps right now to help ensure motorists have greater access to low-carbon alternatives to gasoline such as E15 and E85,” Jennings says. “Each increased gallon of ethanol used in the U.S. today reduces GHGs and the administration can take steps today through the Renewable Fuel Standard to push more ethanol into the marketplace.”

Rural Voices USA Board President Chris Gibbs says in accomplishing the goal, the path ahead will be difficult but Americans, particularly in rural America, are ready to do their part.

“The path ahead will also require a commitment to biofuels as an essential way to reduce emissions and support rural economies. That is why today, as the President discusses the future of the industry, we encourage him to renew his commitment to biofuels and upholding the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Gibbs says. “Now is not the time to go back. The administration must uphold promises on blending targets and ensure rural Americans play a part in tackling climate change in a way that supports jobs.”

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About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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