We need Gina McCarthy as the next Environmental Protection Agency administrator and Ernest Moniz as the next secretary of Energy. We believe Congress should confirm these leaders so they can ensure Americans continue to have access to clean, affordable energy — and the benefits that energy brings.
When the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was signed into law by President George W. Bush, it was envisioned as a two-part strategy: Renewable fuel and technology companies would bring solutions to market, and oil companies would ensure drivers could use them.
We’ve done our part: Foreign oil imports are down 10 percent. We’ve added $40 billion to America’s gross domestic product. We’re offering blends from E15 to E85 in some parts of the country. But, as energy analyst Daniel Dicker says, “[Oil] refiners don’t make ethanol, so they’re not really all that happy about making E15. What they want to do is make gasoline because that’s what they make money off of.”
Imagine how much broader these benefits will be when the oil companies help get more renewable energy into our fuel mix, out to gas stations and to families. Confirming McCarthy and Moniz will only can help us get to that future.
Renewable fuel, which makes up nearly 10 percent of our current gasoline supply, is already saving consumers a big chunk of their take-home pay.
A study out of Louisiana State University credits the mix of renewable fuel in our gasoline with lowering the average price of a gallon by $0.79, and Iowa State University estimates the savings to be $1.09. Either way, that’s a significant savings — giving consumers more money to save or spend on their families.
These benefits will increase as cellulosic renewable fuel continues to scale up. In May of last year, my company, Novozymes, inaugurated the country’s largest enzyme plant dedicated to biofuels in Blair, Neb. That facility creates enzymes for both advanced and traditional renewable fuel. Funded by $200 million in private investment, our facility created 100 careers and 400 construction jobs.
What we have done in Blair is an example of what’s happening across America. Companies like ours have spent more than $1 billion putting steel in the ground and creating jobs. Advanced renewable fuel facilities are operating in more than 22 states. This advanced biofuel is reinvigorating our local economies and the nation’s, too. It’s being made by American workers, offering them good-paying, stable jobs in a growing industry — in fact, advanced biofuels can help create 800,000 more. We can make that reality sooner if leaders continue to support renewable fuel, as McCarthy has and will.
This cutting-edge technology is possible because of innovation, science and investment, which will be expedited through smart public private partnerships that Moniz has the know-how to put together, and the stability of the Renewable Fuel Standard.
The RFS is the most important policy moving the US toward energy security and fuel diversity. As cellulosic facilities scale up and consumers begin to use higher blends of ethanol such as E15 and E85 fuel, we will employ more people, reduce pollution and save Americans cash at the gas pump because of the RFS.
Unfortunately, the oil industry wants to derail this progress to protect their market share. Oil companies control the lion’s share of the infrastructure needed to integrate renewable fuel into our national gasoline supply, allowing them to stop opposition in a way that many other industries cannot.
President Barack Obama wants to get more renewable fuel to families: With his proposed Energy Security Trust Fund, American drivers can benefit from cheaper gas, cleaner air and improved national security.
Congress wants to get more renewable fuel to America: Last month the Senate rejected in a bipartisan manner an amendment from Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., that would have zeroed out funding for renewable fuel development by the Department of Defense.
Despite this momentum, legislative threats to the RFS remain. We must continue to avoid short-term energy policy changes that imperil America’s communities, families and businesses. Maintaining the RFS ensures that America’s renewable fuel industry — from traditional, advanced or cellulosic sources — keeps growing our economy.
We can get to this future of lower gas prices, more jobs and increased security and investment if the RFS stays unchanged. And the path forward will be smoother if we have leaders who can not only add their voices to the growing chorus of renewable fuel supporters, but have the experience to execute on that vision. McCarthy and Moniz have the backgrounds to help this incredible industry flourish. We hope Congress continues to do the same.
Adam Monroe is president of Novozymes North America, a manufacturer of enzymes, microorganisms and biopharmaceutical ingredients.