Attendance at the 23rd annual Ethanol Conference and Trade Show this week is considerably smaller than it was when the American Coalition for Ethanol meeting was held here in Kansas City just a few years ago – but the issues facing the industry have never been bigger.
As everyone knows, two major policy-driven challenges face the industry – expiration of the ethanol blenders tax credit (VEETC) and associated tariff on imports at the end of this year, and the need to allow higher blends of ethanol in gasoline to get over the “blend wall” and meet the Renewable Fuels Standard. ACE executive vice president Brian Jennings says the industry realizes that extension of the 45 cent VEETC for another five years is unlikely at this point. “So, members of Congress are looking at alternatives,” Jennings said, including a House Ways and Means Committee plan for a one year extension of VEETC at a reduced level of 36 cents a gallon that would also extend the tariff for a year. “Optimistically, I look at that as our floor and we’ll try to improve upon that as the process moves its way through Congress.” However, he notes that there are only 20 days left on the Congressional calendar starting when the lawmakers return from Labor Day recess until they break for the elections in October – not much time to accomplish much.
As to increasing the blend rate for ethanol in gasoline to 15 percent, Jennings says they are hoping that the EPA will at least approve an interim increase to E12, which the agency can do under current rules without any further testing or special waivers.
Listen to an interview with Brian Jennings here: ACE Conference Brian Jennings