For millions of Americans, Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to summer. Despite gas prices that are nearly 40% higher than a year ago, families across the nation will celebrate the upcoming holiday weekend by taking a road trip. As families hit the road this weekend, the increasing availability of ethanol will ensure they spend considerably less on gasoline than would otherwise be the case.
Since its very inception, the global biofuels industry has unfairly been portrayed by some ardent detractors as a sector that creates an unavoidable “food vs. fuel” choice. Luddites and Malthusians have suggested that crop-based biofuels simply can’t provide significant volumes of energy for transportation without starving the world’s poor. Unfortunately, these extreme views of biofuels have sometimes been fortified by alarmist rhetoric and doomsday sound bites from leaders of major international organizations, quasi-governmental groups, and NGOs. Against this backdrop, it was quite refreshing to see two reports in the last week that highlight the extraordinary potential of biofuels to serve as agents of rural development and enhancers of food security in developing nations.
In a letter sent to Congress yesterday, leading advocates of the U.S. biofuels industry urged the members to reject attempts to reduce, waive or eliminate the requirements of the RFS. This policy is essential to securing the capital investments needed to bring new biofuels technologies to commercialization.
Distillers grains have become an important component of the livestock feed market. Still, some in the poultry industry would rather malign this nutrient-rich feed product in the hopes of returning to a day when they could buy corn from farmers below the cost of production. As the RFA pointed out, distillers grains are not going anywhere and their benefit in the livestock feed market cannot be dismissed.
All Americans know it - the price of everything is up today. Many Americans recognize that the price of oil and the price of gasoline dictate the price of everything we buy. But some are seeking to mislead Americans by blaming domestic ethanol production.
Yesterday, USDA’s first estimate of 2011 corn supply and demand; and March ethanol export data was released. The USDA released it's first estimate of the 2011 corn crop, as well as 2011/12 demand. USDA is predicting 92.2 million acres of corn to be planted, 85.1 million harvested acres, and an average yield of 158.7 bushels per acre. This would produce a total crop of 13.5 billion bushels, an all-time record.
Senator Grassley and a group of 7 bipartisan cosponsors introduced the Domestic Energy Security Act of 2011. For all provisions, this bill would extend them through 2016 – in essence this is a 5 year bill. The following is a humble attempt to walk through them quickly.
The Energy Policy Research Foundation (EPRINC) recently released a white paper inexplicably suggesting that the cost of the Federal ethanol program exceeds its benefits by a factor of 3 to 1. Among other debatable claims, the paper asserts that the rising cost of corn is a major obstacle to the expansion of the corn ethanol industry, irrespective of the fact that crude oil prices have surged to levels not seen since the 2008 commodity bubble and gasoline prices are approaching record highs.