Growth Energy proposes new fuel policy to decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil<
By Melissa Coon
Washington, July 15 - Growth Energy, a coalition of U.S. ethanol supporters, today proposed a fundamental shift in America's national fuel policy to decrease America's dependence on foreign oil and create a more competitive market by giving Americans the freedom to choose their fuel. The plan intends to redirect and eventually phase out government tax incentives for ethanol through new infrastructure investments.
The primary elements of the plan include:
- Funds currently going to the oil industry as an incentive for blending ethanol into gasoline (the $0.45 per gallon Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, also known as the blenders' credit) would be redirected to provide backing for the build out of distribution infrastructure for ethanol - such as tax credits for retailers to install 200,000 blender pumps and federal backing of ethanol pipelines.
- Requiring that all automobiles sold in the U.S. be flex-fuel vehicles - as many as 120 million. This requires no additional cost to taxpayers and a minimal cost (about $120 per vehicle) to vehicle manufacturers.
“Time and again our dependence on foreign oil has severely impacted our economy, our tax payers, our environment and our national security. We spend approximately $300 billion a year as a nation - $1 billion a day - on foreign oil. America's economic resources are helping the economies of foreign and sometimes hostile countries. This is absurd, both from an economic and national security standpoint. It's time we actually do something about it,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis.
National Farmers Union (NFU) immediately issued a statement endorsing Growth Energy's Fueling Freedom Plan.
“There is a significant need for a long-term vision to secure a domestic renewable fuel supply to reduce the United States' reliance on foreign oil,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “The ‘Fueling Freedom' plan provides an opportunity for all Americans to benefit.”
However, other ethanol supporters released a cool response to Growth Energy's plan.
“There can be no question that the current tax policies to support the evolution of America's ethanol industry have been successful,” said Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen. “Now is not the time to add uncertainty and complexity to the energy tax debate. Because the EPA has failed to act to allow higher-level ethanol blends, margins in the industry are razor thin. Losing the tax incentive now will shutter plants and cost tens of thousands of jobs. This is a serious discussion with real world implications. Numerous ideas exists and due diligence must be done to ensure the right ideas are put together so as to foster the continued growth of this industry.”
Growth Energy Advisory Board Member Jim Nussle, a former congressman who was OMB Director during the second Bush administration, said that although Congress will continue to support programs like VEETC incentive for ethanol, Congress is looking for a different approach to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil.
“If you only do what you've always done, you'll only get what you've always got. We don't want to get what we've always got,” said Nussle. He believes that if Americans are presented with the choice to choose their fuel, they will choose home-grown ethanol.
Growth Energy said it would encourage the Senate to incorporate its proposal into an upcoming energy bill.
“We need a vision, we need a plan to reverse this dangerous trip,” said Buis. “Ethanol is the only existing alternative to foreign oil that can be produced in any sizable quantity. It's not the fuel that's 20 years away, it's here, it's now and it can help our nation reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a statement in response to the Growth Energy proposal:
“USDA recognizes the importance of biofuels to a clean energy future. We maintain a sustained commitment to tax incentives that support the existing biofuel industry and accelerate the development of advanced biofuels, in order to meet the 36 billion gallon goal for 2022, mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
“USDA applauds and encourages new ideas from the biofuels industry, including those that address some of the infrastructure challenges with biofuels. While the number of operating ethanol refineries in the United States has more than doubled between 2005 and 2009, additional expansion is needed to accelerate advanced biofuel production. To ensure America's long term energy security, more of our energy should be produced domestically instead of depending upon oil from foreign sources. To help meet this goal, USDA will continue leveraging public and private investments so we can create a stable supply of energy produced in America.”
To hear Stewart Doan's audio report on the Growth Energy plan, go to: www.agri-pulse.com/uploaded/GrowthEnergy071510.mp3
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