August 10, 2022

Ethanol industry poised to play major role in net-zero emissions

ELLISVILLE, Mo. — After a couple of years of more downs than ups, there’s optimistic news on the ethanol front looking toward 2022 and beyond.

Geoff Cooper, Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO, sees opportunities for the industry in a net-zero carbon emissions future, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to return the Renewable Fuels Standard levels to the statutory volume.

Cooper looked ahead in a recent RFA-sponsored Ethanol Report.

“We think there is a tremendous role that ethanol can play in helping to get to the net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 goal. We know that ethanol itself can be a net-zero carbon emission fuel. Today we’re already cutting greenhouse emissions by about 50% compared to gasoline,” Cooper said.

On Dec. 8, President Joe Biden announced a new executive order, Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability, which directs the federal government to achieve a carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050.

“We can get that 50% reduction to 100% reduction which would be net-zero by 2050 or sooner. There are already technologies available to help us get there, whether it’s carbon capture and sequestration or whether it is finally accounting properly for the carbon efficient farming practices that we know are happening in cornfields across the country,” Cooper added.

“We think there is a tremendous role that ethanol can play in helping to get to the net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 goal.”

—  Geoff Cooper, Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO

The RFA board of directors threw support toward pursuing a zero-net goal in July when they pledged that by 2050 the ethanol they produce will have an average of a net-zero emissions carbon footprint.

“We’ve seen others follow that lead in recent months. We recently saw POET announce they are pledging to that same commitment, and I know Ace’s board of directors adopted something similar very recently, and Green Plains, another large ethanol producer, is also onboard with that net-zero commitment,” Cooper noted.

“It’s great to see the industry coming along and following RFA’s lead on reaching net-zero by 2050. We think that’s going to be crucial to the industry’s future.”

Return To Statute

Another bright spot moving forward is EPA’s proposal to set the 2022 RFS levels for conventional biofuels like corn ethanol to the statutory volume of 15 billion gallons.

“Then go beyond that and add another 250 million gallons of required blending to finally address a 2017 court decision. That’s positive news and as you look at one of the reasons EPA is using to justify that proposal, EPA Administrator Michael Regan is saying, yes, the RFS and biofuels, even corn ethanol, have a role to play in this nation’s efforts and this administration’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector,” Cooper said.

“It was very reassuring to see the administration looking at the RFS as a way to jumpstart their efforts and their desire to reduce carbon emissions long-term from the transportation sector.”

Tom Doran

Tom Doran

Field Editor