Valero may be in the ethanol business now with its purchase of eight former VeraSun plants, but oil is still the company’s first priority. That’s why they are not backing the ethanol industry’s request for an increase in the ethanol blend level to 15 percent.
According to an article in Ethanol Producer Magazine, Valero maintains its membership in the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA) and stands behind the organization’s position against raising the ethanol blend level. They have not yet joined any of the ethanol organizations as a producer member, even though they now rank as the nation’s third largest ethanol producer.
Bill Day, director of media relations for Valero, told the magazine that “what we said about ethanol before we were an ethanol producer remains true: ethanol is an industry that is relying on government subsidies, a government renewable fuel mandate, and tariffs on imported ethanol.” However, he says that they recognize that ethanol is going to be an important part of the fuel mix in the country “and so as long as we’re required to buy ethanol, we might as well make it.”
Valero has also made some corn farmers unhappy by announcing it will not honor the high-priced corn contracts entered into by bankrupt Verasun. The Argus Leader reports that farmers in South Dakota were not surprised, but were disappointed by the decision. Still, they are happy that Valero is getting the plants back on line and fully operational.