Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and other administration officials joined rural stakeholders for a clean energy economy forum at the White House on Wednesday, which was the one year anniversary of President Obama’s Biofuels Directive.
“Renewable energy production is a key to sustainable economic development in rural America,” Vilsack said. “We must rapidly escalate the production of biofuels to meet the 2022 Federal Renewable Fuels standard goal, and much of this biofuel will come from feedstocks produced by America’s farmers and ranchers. This will be an increasing source of income for rural America and it represents an opportunity to increase the number of green jobs available not only to farm families, but to residents of rural communities.”
Two panels moderated by the Secretary consisted of administration, academic and science professionals discussing efforts to help rural America build a clean energy economy that creates jobs, reduces our dependence on foreign oil and enhances our competitive position in the global economy.
USDA Chief Economist Joe Glauber discussed the current situation for ethanol, with production outpacing use. “We are producing a lot of ethanol,” said Glauber. “It doesn’t mean we’re necessarily at the blend wall, but there is a lot of production out there for the supply.”
He noted that ethanol stocks have grown. “In February, stock numbers were close to 800 million gallons. That’s a record, that’s about 25 or so days of inventory,” Glauber said.
While the ethanol industry is hopeful that EPA will grant a waiver to allow up to 15 percent ethanol to be blended in regular gasoline, Glauber is doubtful that will be a quick fix. “I don’t think that a change to E15 will transform the situation overnight,” Glauber said, since he believes the transition at the pump level will take some time. If the EPA only grants a partial waiver for E15 in newer vehicle, Glauber says the transition will be even more complicated. “Then there will have to be E10 available for those older cars and E15 potentially available for younger cars, so it’s not a silver bullet for the constraints that we see ethanol production under right now.”
EPA continues to wait on data from the Department of Energy on vehicle testing before they make a final decision on the waiver request.