Ethanol leaders: Product worthy, but regulations a problem

-The Hagstrom Report
From left, Mike Dwyer of the U.S. Grains Council (moderator), Geoff Cooper of the Renewable Fuels Association, Andrea Kent of Renewable Fuels Canada, Evandro Gussi of UNICA Brazil, Emmanuel Desplechin of ePure European Union and Craig Willis of Growth Energy.
Photo by Jerry Hagstrom/The Hagstrom Report

Ethanol products are good for the world, but that they face regulatory hurdles at many levels, leaders of ethanol groups from around the world said Oct. 16 at a Global Ethanol Summit panel discussion on the future of the industry.

Geoff Cooper of the U.S Renewable Fuels Association said that in 2019 U.S. producers for the first time in 22 years had gone backward in usage because the Trump administration had exempted one third of refiners from standards requiring ethanol use. In addition, he said, the industry faces trade barriers in China and Brazil.

Craig Willis of Growth Energy noted that the U.S government has finally approved E15 gasoline, but said there is a lot of “misinformation” about ethanol.

Andrea Kent of Renewable Industries Canada said that the Canadian industry does not face the level of “tension between big oil and big corn” that the United States faces, but that there is conflict between the Canadian national government and the provincial governments where ethanol is produced.

Evandro Gussi of UNICA, a Brazilian organization, said that the Brazilian industry is the big brother in the industry because it started first. He noted that Brazil did not promote the ethanol industry because it would be better for climate change or air quality but because it was a reaction to the oil crisis in the early 1970s and good for economic development.

“Brazil is the only country in the world that can increase development for energy and reduce our emissions. It is unique in the world,” Gussi said.

He added that Brazilian ethanol equals “Superman, Batman and Spiderman,” to which Kent added “Wonder Woman.”

Emmanuel Desplechin of ePure, a European group, said that “we have a tendency in Europe of letting perfection be the enemy of the good,” but that the European Union has decided to promote advanced biofuels for those sectors that cannot be electrified.

Two attendees in the audience said that ethanol faces hurdles at the United Nations and in other international organizations that do not appreciate the value of ethanol.

Industry and government officials from 60 countries participated in the Global Ethanol Summit, which was sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council, the Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy.