More than 100 people listened to a briefing by the Environmental Energy Study Institute (EESI) earlier this week in Washington, DC. The topic of the briefing was cellulosic ethanol and the role the Renewable Fuel Standard plays in that industry. Illinois Corn has assisted EESI in putting together a series of briefings to update Washington, DC, insiders on what’s going on in the ethanol industry.
To start things off at this briefing, Illinois Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth’s legislative director, Kalina Bakalov, provided opening remarks. Bakalov said that the Congresswoman’s experience as a member of our military in the Middle East helped form her position on ethanol.
There are some in this country that would like to see the Renewable Fuel Standard rolled back if not completely repealed. Even at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, efforts are seemingly underway to undermine the U.S. ethanol industry and therefor return market share to Big Oil.
The purpose of this hearing was to demonstrate the importance of the RFS to the success of not just the corn ethanol industry, but to the cellulosic industry, as well. Presently, corn stover is the primary feedstock used to make cellulosic ethanol at our nation’s only commercial-sized cellulosic ethanol facility. According to the EESI website, “The potential is huge: according to the Department of Energy’s 2011 ‘Billion Ton Update’, there are currently 244 million dry tons of sustainably recoverable agricultural wastes that are suitable for producing cellulosic ethanol in the United States, and that number could reach as high as 910 million dry tons per year by 2030.”
Supporting a cellulosic ethanol market also means supporting a corn-based ethanol market. Without a strong corn-based ethanol industry and the RFS, many believe that research and development dollars would dry up.