The innate persistence of the U.S. ethanol industry and its champions can drive renewable fuels to new heights in 2023, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said today in his annual “State of the Industry” presentation at the National Ethanol Conference in Orlando, Fla.
“When faced with challenges, roadblocks, and failure, we don’t give up,” Cooper said. “We continue to innovate. We think outside of the box. We find workarounds. We eliminate the ways that won’t work…and find the way that will work.”
Cooper cited several policy and marketplace successes last year—such as passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, strong RFS volumes for 2022, a growth-oriented RFS proposal for 2023-2025, and greater interest in sustainable aviation fuel—as building momentum toward an even better 2023. He noted that the unanimous net-zero-carbon commitment of the association’s members is leading to a “renaissance moment” for ethanol, including unprecedented interest and innovation in green chemicals, sustainable aviation fuel, and other non-traditional uses.
“We have momentum on our side after some major victories in 2022,” Cooper said. “Now, we need to keep it going. As we continue positioning ethanol for long-term success and growth, we need to be persistent in telling our story to policymakers, regulators, the media, industry stakeholders, and the general public. We can’t let others define us. We define our future—not oil refiners in Delaware; not environmental extremists; not ivory tower academics; not loud-mouthed cable TV talk show hosts.”
Much work needs to be done, Cooper said, including a permanent fix allowing year-round nationwide E15, a recommitment to E85 and flex fuel vehicles, restoring fair trade in major global markets, securing the future of the Renewable Fuel Standard, and the development of future policies like a national clean fuel standard or the Next Generation Fuels Act.
“We certainly have our work cut out for us, and we’re going to need your help,” Cooper concluded, using the “Ready. Set. Go!” theme of the event. “If we are going to accomplish these goals, we’ll need your passion and your persistence. Let’s keep this momentum going. It is indeed an exhilarating time to be in the ethanol industry! We are ready for growth because of your tireless advocacy and innovation. And we are set up for success because policymakers are recognizing the promise of low-carbon renewable fuels. And for the first time in many years, we have the wind at our back. So, now it’s time to soar! Let’s Go!”
Cooper’s state of the industry remarks, as prepared for delivery, are available here; his presentation slides are available here.