Every year, the Wisconsin Bio Industry Alliance joins national ethanol advocacy group, the Renewable Fuel Association, for their annual Washington, D.C. lobbying day. This year, the WBIA’s Executive Director Joshua Morby and President Robert Sather had meetings with nearly every one of the offices of Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation.
“This is not really about left or right,” says Josh Morby, “Wisconsin’s ethanol industry is vital to the economic growth of our rural communities. We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars going into the pockets and cash registers of Wisconsinites. Plus, ethanol is cleaner to burn than gasoline and helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We have to make sure we fight for this industry here in Wisconsin.”
The primary goal of the WBIA’s visit to DC last week was to make sure our federal lawmakers are aware of the biggest threat to ethanol – proposed changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard. The RFS is a 2007 law that was designed to encourage America to shift away from fossil fuels. Passed with bipartisan support, the RFS has been considered the single most effective piece of legislation in reducing America’s greenhouse gas pollution.
A key part of the RFS is the Renewable Volume Obligation, which by law mandates that a certain percentage of every gallon of gasoline sold in America contain ethanol. The goal was not to endorse ethanol but to push our transportation fuels infrastructure to lean forwards and reduce our dependence on foreign petroleum. Over the past year, the RVO has been attacked by the oil industry, culminating in a decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to potentially remove or lower the volume obligation. This would be a mistake. We can’t let the oil industry’s inconvenience stifle research into new fuels.
“We understand this is polarizing. We understand that it’s a complex issue.” Said WBIA President Robert Sather, “There’s been a lot of study that has gone into this, and the evidence does not back up the claims of our opponents. The RFS and the RVO are not going to make it so the oil industry is no longer profitable. The concept of a ‘blend wall,’ a point where they run out of ethanol to mix into the gasoline supply is absurd. It’s not real.”
Armed only with handouts of ethanol’s economic impact in Wisconsin, the WBIA met with seven of our ten Congressional offices to share a state of the market update with legislators.
“Part of the WBIA’s mission is education, and we take that seriously. So when we meet with our elected officials we’re there mostly as educators. If they know about the industry and our value to the state they can form their own thoughts. “Says Josh Morby, “And because of that, for nearly ten years our relationships in Madison, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. have only grown.”
For more information on the proposed changes to the RFS click here for the EPA’s summary.
To learn more about the “blend wall,” take a look at this breakdown from the RFA.
If you want to see what the RFS is all about, check out this summary from Growth Energy.
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