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Vilsack Challenges Ethanol Industry to Make Case for Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told Growth Energy’s annual Hill Summit this week, it’s a “make or break moment” for the biofuels industry to make the case for Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

Vilsack told ethanol advocates he’s educating other agency heads and even the president on the need for Sustainable Aviation Fuel and the life-cycle-emissions formula and tax credits required. He said, “But you all have to understand something else, which is that you have to be able to make the case that your product, is in fact, a low-carbon fuel—which means that you’ve got to do something with the CO2.”

Vilsack argues farmers must understand the significance of expanding ethanol markets and stop blaming electric vehicles. He says, “Farmers come up to me and they say, ‘Ah, would you stop talking about electric vehicles.’ No, because we want to make sure that we continue to have manufacturing in this country, because it employs a lot of people. It’s not going to put you guys out of business. It’s not. We’re going to have cars that use ethanol for a long, long time.”

Vilsack says EVs are not the issue; “The issue is this industry taking full and complete advantage of a 36 billion-gallon industry that has never existed, that now, will. But you’ve got to fight for it.”

Vilsack says the airlines want it and he wants it to keep small towns and farm families in business. “36 billion gallons! I don’t know, I’m not good at math, but that’s a lot more than we’re producing now. Today, we support, what, 400,000 jobs, more than that? So, if you double the industry, that small town’s thriving!”

Vilsack expects modeling and Treasury tax guidance for Sustainable Aviation Fuel to be done by the end of the year—an effort Vilsack says President Biden backs and touted in a speech as a win for farmers.

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