Matt Hartwig, Dir. Of Public Affairs
Blog Posts by Matt Hartwig, Dir. Of Public Affairs
January 04, 2012
A federal court in California has ruled that the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. This is a significant development for all U.S. ethanol producers. In the following post, the RFA explains the ruling and why it truly matters.
January 03, 2012
A new year ushers in a new era for ethanol in the U.S. New markets domestically and internationally are opening up just as new technologies for ethanol production begin commercial construction at new biorefineries around the country. What 2012 will ultimately hold for American ethanol production remains to be seen, but that shouldn’t stop us from positing some guesses.
December 21, 2011
2011 was a momentous year for America’s ethanol industry both domestically and internationally. From new markets to new technologies to a new policy framework, the events of 2011 will shape the future of America’s renewable fuel industry.
October 28, 2011
In a recent opinion piece, commodity broker Dave Juday attempts to argue that America’s push to use renewable fuels to weaken our dependence on foreign oil is a “fiasco.” As is often the case with the opinions of anti-ethanol critics, the argument lacks context and a complete recital of the facts. If 400,000 jobs and 445 million fewer barrels of imported oil each year are a fiasco, then America could use a few more just like it.
July 26, 2011
As the nation teeters on the brink of default, lawmakers from both parties continue to squabble while others seek to further erode the progress America has made in reducing our reliance on imported oil.
July 08, 2011
Earlier this week, Senators Thune, Klobuchar and Feinstein reached a compromise on ethanol tax legislation to end VEETC and use the funds for debt reduction, infrastructure investment, and cellulosic ethanol investment. In this blog post, the RFA explains exactly what this new legislation will consist of and where the ethanol industry will go from here. While this is not the perfect compromise, this bipartisan effort to find common ground is the kind of sensible policy making American voters desperately want from their elected leaders. We greatly appreciate the leadership of Senators Klobuchar and Thune in doggedly pursuing a solution to this impasse.
June 29, 2011
With EPA’s final label for E15 ethanol blends now in the books, the real work must begin. Educating retailers about the safe and legal sale of the E15 blends, expanding ethanol fueling infrastructure, and putting the concerns of consumers to rest about the use of E15 in their approved vehicles must be and will be at the heart of what the ethanol industry and the RFA do in the coming months and years.
June 10, 2011
In politics, it is always wise to follow the money – both good and bad. In the case of Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) efforts to kill American ethanol production, the money tells the story.
June 08, 2011
As if more evidence was needed that America must end its coerced affair with OPEC, Javier Blas at the Financial Times reports that $100+ oil is likely the new norm. Why? Because OPEC members like Venezuela and Iran need to balance their books after years of “rampant military spending.”
May 18, 2011
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.
May 13, 2011
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.
May 13, 2011
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.
May 05, 2011
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.
April 26, 2011
America's commitment to ethanol and renewable fuels has been a unparalleled success for rural America. It has created jobs, spurred economic activity, and even given some rural residents a reason and the opportunity to move back home. Yet, critics of ethanol would lead you to believe that ethanol is the scourage of rural America. A new paper from an anti-ethanol group, Food and Water Watch, goes so far as to compare domestic ethanol production to the illegal methamphetamine plague impacting rural areas. Like much of the rhetoric from those opposing ethanol, this paper is not based on the facts and takes poetic license to irresponsible levels.
April 05, 2011
When it comes to criticizing “wasteful” tax policy, neither Senator Tom Coburn nor the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal have much credibility. While focusing with near myopic precision on American farmers and ethanol producers, both Sen. Coburn and the Journal are exposing their enormous blind spots when it comes to oil subsidies and corporate tax policy that allows the world’s largest companies to pay no taxes at all.
March 24, 2011
Today, ethanol-blended fuels are bringing the price down at the pump for consumers. Customers are able to spend between a nickel and a dime less than what they would pay for conventional gasoline. Despite this, the New Hampshire House of Representatives recently voted to put a ban on corn-based ethanol in the state. This bill will not only increase gas prices and lead us down a road toward more imported oil, it will also hinder the very market into which advanced and cellulosic ethanol producers will one day want to sell.
March 23, 2011
As oil prices soar and gas prices spike even before the start of the summer driving season, lawmakers in Nebraska and New Hampshire take divergent positions on America's dependence on oil. One is seeking to increase its use of domestic renewable fuels. The other is choosing to head down a path of increased oil dependence.
March 17, 2011
Food prices around the globe are rising and as a result, many are quickly searching for a scapegoat. Far too many are still recycling half-truths and misconceptions about the role of rising corn prices in food price escalation and demand for corn created by America’s ethanol industry. In a new look at the distribution of each dollar spent on food in the U.S., the U.S. Department of Agriculture has found just 11.6 cents of each dollar spent makes its way back to the farm. In other words, the raw ingredients in retail food items account for just 12 cents of every consumer dollar spent, while energy costs, labor, transportation, packaging, and other supply chain costs account for the other 88 cents.
February 24, 2011
According to an economic analysis from Cardno ENTRIX economist John Urbanchuk, 70,600 Americans are employed directly in the production of ethanol and in industries providing goods and services to ethanol producers. As a result of the economic activity generated by ethanol production, more than 400,000 Americans have been able to keep their jobs or find new ones.
February 11, 2011
Frequently discredited ethanol antagonist Tim Searchinger found a sympathetic ear at the Washington Post which published yet another diatribe against biofuels that is largely devoid of relevant facts. That isn’t surprising given that Mr. Searchinger’s theory of international land use change and the penalty he sought to impose on biofuels has been regularly revised and proven false. His most current attack is simply more of the same, even if somewhat toned down.
January 25, 2011
Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen today is addressing the gathering of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association in Des Moines, Iowa. Dinneen is joining Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Senator Rick Santorum, and others to speak on importance of ethanol and biofuels to state and the nation.
December 07, 2010
The debate on extending critical tax policies for ethanol use remains unchanged, even though a deal on expiring Bush-era tax cuts has been reached.
December 06, 2010
The clock is ticking down to the end of the 1111th Congress, yet big policy issues remain. Chiefly for the American ethanol industry, extending the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) is a top priority. Stage craft around votes on expiring Bush-era tax cuts took place over the weekend to the expected outcome. Now, with that bit of political messaging behind them, both the House and the Senate can get down to business and address those issues that must get done.
November 30, 2010
The Washington Post is reporting on a letter sent to Senate leadership from a group of senators urging an end to the ethanol tax incentive known as VEETC. Unfortunately, the letter ignores the economic and job creation that would be lost if America fails to continue its investment in ethanol and renewable fuels.
November 22, 2010
Speaking at a green energy business conference in Athens, former vice president Al Gore declared “it is not good policy to have subsidies for (U.S.) first-generation ethanol.” Explaining his earlier support for grain ethanol, Gore said he had “paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a particular fondness for farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for President.”
November 18, 2010
Members of Congress are often flooded with emails on various issues important to their constituents. It is easy to believe that those letters quickly find their way into the round file, but as a former Hill staffer, I can tell you that each letter is given the attention it deserves. For evidence, take a look at the response sent to RFA VP Geoff Cooper from Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill on the importance of domestic biofuels. It goes show that it always pays to let your elected officials know what you think beyond the first the Tuesday after the first Monday in November every two years.
November 17, 2010
Anti-ethanol special interests will leave no stone unturned in their efforts to denigrate American farmers and ethanol producers in a desperate attempt to return to the good ol’ days when corn was $2/bushel and oil was the only game in town. The most recent salvo is the exploitation of an Iowa State University professor that has previously taken money from Brazilian sugar plantations to question American ethanol production. It reads as though it might have been written in the boardroom of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, not in a classroom in Ames, Iowa. (As an Iowa State Alum, I can attest to the generally high quality of the academic experience). As was the case then, his most current arguments still don’t seem based on likely real world scenarios.
November 10, 2010
Lots of editorial boards have come out in support of and against ethanol. They are welcome to their opinions. What they are not welcome to is their own facts. In attacking ethanol as the Houston Chronicle did in its editorial “Food versus fuel: Rising grain costs show folly of continuing federal ethanol subsidies,” the editorial board propagated misinformation and, at some points, simply made up facts to support their predetermined opinion.
October 27, 2010
Environmentalists were among the early supporters of ethanol as they sought to mitigate the damage done by man’s overly heavy dependence on petroleum. Now that ethanol is trying to go mainstream, environmentalists are turning on ethanol production in an oil-fueled haze. But it wasn’t that long ago the leading environmentalists were urging more ethanol use.
October 21, 2010
Following this morning's remarks by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding Obama Administration biofuel policy, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen issued the following statement: "The Obama Administration has shown strong leadership on the issue of domestic biofuels, putting forward a vision that recognizes the importance of the existing industry and the potential of new technologies. Domestic ethanol production is one of the few bright spots in a gloomy economic forecast, providing tens of thousands of jobs in hundreds of rural communities all across the country. By expanding the scope of American ethanol production to include new feedstocks from grasses to wood waste to algae, the industry can extend the benefits seen in rural America to every corner of the country".....
October 01, 2010
Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Policy Heather Zichal reiterated the commitment of the Obama Administration to the entire ethanol industry regardless of technology or feedstock at RFA's Annual Membership Meeting this week. Specifically, Zichal highlighted the Administration's support of existing ethanol policy, including the tax incentive in its current form, as well as its commitment to ethanol technologies of every kind.
September 30, 2010
In conjunction with the RFA's Annual Meeting being held September 30th, the RFA Announces the Board of Directors and New Officers for FY 2011.
September 28, 2010
Not ones to miss an opportunity to cricitize renewable fuels, a group led by the usual suspects of Big Oil and Big Food can come out against E12. While its unclear why such a statement is being made now, it nonetheless will not go unanswered.
September 23, 2010
A Bloomberg story today warned that deficit hawks in Congress – and potentially those that might be elected this fall – are targeting ethanol as an example of wasteful government spending. This a laughable conclusion when you stop to consider that the $5 billion invested in ethanol by the federal government in the form of tax incentives in 2009 was paltry compared to the $1.4 trillion deficit that year. And that's just the beginning of the shortsightedness with such an argument.
September 21, 2010
In the coming weeks, the EPA is expected to announce a ruling on whether to increase the ethanol content allowed in gasoline blends from 10 percent (E10) to 15 percent (E15). Unfortunately, the EPA has hinted it will limit the use of E15 to newer vehicles — those made more recently than 2001 or perhaps even 2007. Fortunately, there is no research suggesting that E15 damages cars and other vehicles, whatever their vintage. In order to further explore this issue, the Renewable Fuels Association commissioned a study by the internationally recognized automotive engineering firm, Ricardo, Inc.
August 04, 2010
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has pulled even a scaled-back version of an energy bill from consideration before the Senate leaves this week for recess. This is disappointing, but not surprising.
July 30, 2010
Many will remember the "leaked" report from the World Bank that blamed biofuels for 75% of the run up in commodity prices a few years ago. Now, a new report from the Bank's Development Prospects Group comes to a different conclusion. The authors of the report find that "“…the effect of biofuels on food prices has not been as large as originally thought..". That sounds familiar.
July 29, 2010
Many people, including me, have been puzzled by the silence, or at least perceived silence, of the environmental community over the oil spill in the Gulf. As millions of gallons of oil kill ocean life and ruin coastlines, many in the environmental community seem oddly muted in their protest. Finally, the National Wildlife Federation is exposing the record of spills, accidents and other incidences that have released countless gallons of oil into the environment all across the country since 2000…all while a new oil spill in Michigan highlights the risk of oil to all parts of the country.
July 29, 2010
East Coast media has long had disdain for agriculture, and by extension, ethanol. Much of this dislike stems from a fundamental lack of understanding about the industries and issues important to rural America. While the Wall Street Journal has long been the standard bearer for such vitriol, when it comes to ethanol, the New York Times doesn't fall too far behind. The Times' latest anti-ethanol effort is disguised as a choice between good and bad energy subsidies. The Times argues that subsidies for wind and solar are critical to those industries' survival and our nation's goal of reduced oil consumption (we don't use oil to produce electricity, by the way). The Times then says investments in ethanol, which does replace oil directly in American gas tanks, is unworthy. To be clear, we should be increasing investments in all renewable energies, not picking and choosing winners. Supporting its position, the Times relies on many of the canards offered by ethanol critics about environmental concerns and land usage. My friends over at the Corn Commentary take exception with the Gray Lady's portrayal and perception of ethanol, and offer a rebuttal. Worth a read.
July 29, 2010
The Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, along with the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee, today asked EPA some very relevant questions concerning its deliberation on the E15 waiver - in particular the EPA's apparent decision to approve E15 for only those vehicles 2001 and newer. The RFA agrees with some of the line of questioning the members of Congress are pursuing, particularly given the importance of moving beyond E10 and the success of the Renewable Fuels Standard.
July 26, 2010
Three major farmer and ethanol groups today called on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson to formally approve the use of E12 (12% ethanol) in the nation’s gasoline supply. The groups – American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) – in a formal letter to the EPA Administrator wrote, “based on the EPA’s delay in acting upon the full E15 waiver and on our concerns that the Agency will restrict the use of E15 to cars made in 2001 and thereafter, we encourage the EPA to formally approve the use of E12 for all motor vehicles as an immediate interim step pending any ongoing additional testing on E15.”
July 20, 2010
Moving to E15 will require cooperation between the ethanol industry and those in the business of bringing fuel to American drivers. Today, that cooperation was on display as the RFA joined representatives from the nation's major gasoline marketing trade associations to address some of the challenges a move to E15 may present.
July 16, 2010
After a frenetic week in Washington for America's ethanol industry, all i have to say is Thank Goodness It's Friday!
July 15, 2010
Farmers and ethanol producers agree that extending current tax incentives for ethanol is the right policy. Read what leaders in the industry had to say in its entirety.
July 14, 2010
A new report from the Congressional Budget Office takes the issue of ethanol tax incentives completely out of context. Nowhere in the report does CBO compare ethanol incentives to those provided to fossil fuels. Neither does CBO give credit to America's ethanol industry for the environmental and efficiency improvements it has made or the production of coproducts such as livestock feed and corn oil.
July 14, 2010
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) put out their weekly ethanol production statistics, this week showing that there was a drop in ethanol production. According to EIA data, ethanol production for the week ending 7/9/2010 was 821,000 barrels per day (b/d), or 34.5 million gallons daily. That is down 4% from 855,000 b/d from the previous week.
July 12, 2010
For the first time ever under the RFS, EPA today put out for review its estimates for RFS targets in 2011. Under the law, these are not required until November. Of note, EPA has revised down cellulosic ethanol use from original RFS targets for the second year in a row. While this may be prudent for EPA based on market conditions, it does send a chilling effect through the investment community with respect to cellulosic ethanol technologies. EPA's estimates underscore the need for Dept. of Energy and USDA to construct loan guarantee programs that work for cellulosic ethanol companies.
July 12, 2010
POLITICO is reporting that an extension to the ethanol tax incentive may be in the works on the Senate side as Senate Finance Chairman Baucus and his committee are putting together a package of tax provisions to include an extension of the 45-cent per gallon tax credit for ethanol. The inclusion of this tax credit is suggested to be a going-away present for Senator Grassley (R-IA), a long time supporter of biofuels, ethanol in particular. The fact that leadership is considering this inclusion is more reflective of the fact ethanol enjoys bipartisan support than the term limits imposed by the Senate GOP with respect to committees.
July 01, 2010
Environmentalists may lack some concrete solutions today to actively address the nation’s energy challenges, but one thing they are not short on is creativity – at least when it comes to finding new ways to thwart biofuels.