Grassroots Voice: Grassroots Ethanol Advocates Set the Stage for E15 Support
by Brian Jennings
Owen Jones is a cattle rancher and grassroots ethanol advocate. He’s also a longstanding member of the American Coalition for Ethanol board of directors. He has been encouraging me to schedule a grassroots lobbying effort to Washington, DC for some time. Thanks to Owen and more than 30 other grassroots ACE members, we recently completed our “Biofuels Beltway March” to DC and it was an extraordinary success.
During the fly-in, ACE members – including farmers, ranchers, investors, bankers, small business owners, technology and electric companies, accountants, and ethanol producers – met with more than 70 offices of Members of Congress.
We focused on three priorities in DC:
1. The need to overcome the E10 blend wall
2. Recasting the image of ethanol as a sustainable alternative to petroleum
3. The financial challenges facing our industry
We also met with Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, talking to her about the need to move beyond the E10 blend wall now and how biofuels are part of the low-carbon future.
On March 6, as a follow-up to our meetings in DC, ACE, Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, and others united to formally petition the EPA to approve the use of up to 15 percent ethanol per gallon of gasoline. Our fly-in participants – real grassroots advocates such as Owen Jones – laid the groundwork for EPA and Capitol Hill support of our efforts to move beyond E10, just days before the waiver was submitted to EPA.
EPA has 270 days to review the application, and ACE will need to maintain a very aggressive grassroots effort to generate support for the E15 waiver during that time. We will keep you posted on the waiver’s progress at EPA and how you can continue to help us prevail in this effort.
During our “Biofuels Beltway March,” I was proud to visit congressional offices with Vivian Pappel, who owns a lab supply company in Nebraska, Rich Wiarda, a South Dakota farmer and board member for several ethanol plants, and Bill Hejl, a North Dakota farmer and former president of the World Association of Beet and Cane Growers.
Vivian, Rich, and Bill were eloquent, genuine, and persuasive in our meetings, and along with people like Owen Jones, are a perfect example of how ACE members from all walks of life are effective advocates for our industry’s priorities.
I don’t think I have ever been more proud to be part of ACE than during our grassroots fly-in. Thanks to our members, I am confident we’ll succeed in moving beyond the blend wall.