BLOOMINGTON, Ill.—In a letter to Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL) regarding his discussion draft of the 21st Century Transportation Fuels Act, Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA) stated its position on several points as they relate to corn-based ethanol and the creation of long-term markets that will improve profitability for corn farmers. Congressman Shimkus told ICGA members in a meeting in mid-November at the National Corn to Ethanol Research Center that this discussion draft is a place to begin, not necessarily the place where the legislation will end.
ICGA is ready to drive forward to position the Association’s members as a partner in further developing this promising piece of draft legislation that establishes the first ever minimum octane standards. The Association believes that high-octane, low carbon fuels are not only a great move to provide increased fuel efficiencies and improved tailpipe emissions profiles, but also a pathway to an improved domestic corn demand outlook for farmers.
“Corn farmer profitability is a concern for our members,” said Ted Mottaz, ICGA President from Elmwood, Ill. “As he promised us it would at the meeting in November, Congressman Shimkus’ discussion draft looks promising as the beginning of a conversation that could lead to increasing amounts of corn-based ethanol to enter the marketplace. Ethanol is an important high-powered, environmentally friendly, low-cost octane source for the country’s hundreds of millions of motorists.”
The 21st Century Transportation Fuels Act discussion draft was the topic of a Congressional hearing chaired by Congressman Shimkus on December 11, 2018. Paul Jeschke, a farmer from Mazon, Ill., attended that hearing representing the interests of ICGA and corn farmers. ICGA’s letter to Congressman Shimkus was submitted for official inclusion in the record of this hearing.
“Corn farmers are well positioned to fuel our country’s move to high-efficiency vehicles with reduced greenhouse gas emissions,” said Jeschke. “We are proud of our continual improvements on the farm that year over year, reduce our carbon footprints, and provide a dependable, high quality, renewable source of food, feed, and perhaps more than ever, the high-octane fuel of the future, to the marketplace.”
Congressman Shimkus reiterated at the hearing that this discussion draft is the first attempt to put in place performance-based standards for fuels and vehicles, rather than blend-based standards. As part of that plan, ICGA supports the discussion draft points that:
- Provide Reid Vapor Pressure parity for all blends above E10.
- The preemption of local and state level prohibition of ethanol blends above E10.
- The assurance of the Renewable Fuel Standard Renewable Volume Obligations be 15 billion gallons per year of corn ethanol for 2020, 2021, and 2022.
Of importance is that the draft proposal indicates a sunset of the RFS requirement for conventional biofuels beyond 2022. ICGA policy does not support this provision. ICGA maintains the position that corn farmers need some certainty beyond 2022 and need to better understand how we can achieve that certainty along with fair and open market access for ethanol as an octane source.
“ICGA agrees with many of the concerns voiced at the hearing as they relate to preserving the guardrails the RFS provides,” Jeschke said about what he heard. “We need to have frank discussions with Congressman Shimkus about the RFS and the role it would continue to play beyond 2022.”
ICGA policy has always been to establish a 98 RON certification fuel contingent on the E25-E30 blend of ethanol by the year 2022, and that detail regarding the ethanol blend that would result from a higher minimum octane standard is not currently provided for in the draft. The draft currently proposes a 95 RON certification, a level that many industry insiders believe would be met in large part by petroleum-based octane sources, rather than by corn-based ethanol.
“ICGA intends to stay engaged with Mr. Shimkus and the new Congress to work toward securing increased access for high-octane low carbon fuels in a way that recognizes ethanol as an octane source and allows for growing levels of market inclusion,” Mottaz concluded.
ICGA, along with its sister organization, the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, are leaders in collaborative conversations that are driving industry to be a solution to the futures needs of the liquid motor fuels segment. Corn farmers are growing more corn every year and ICGA is committed to the tough work of finding common ground with a diverse set of stakeholders to build legislation and guide regulatory evolution to support a bright future for corn farmers.