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Buis: Focusing on Renewable Fuels

A recent CQ Roll Call Guest Observer (“Time for a New Approach to Ethanol Mandates,” Dec. 17) completely misses the purpose of the renewable fuel standard and does little to offer solutions to decrease our dependence on foreign oil.

To say the biofuel industry is fighting to maintain the “status quo” is simply false. The reality is that the renewable fuels industry is continuing to drive innovation that helps revitalize rural economies and create jobs. The industry is driving meaningful changes in lowering the amount of foreign oil we import. Currently ethanol — almost exclusively made from grain — makes up 10 percent of our nation’s gasoline pool and is poised to break through the blend wall.

However, taking advantage of a historic drought to perpetuate inaccuracies and play on people’s fears is disingenuous and brings nothing substantial to the conversation.

The straw man argument is nothing more than recycled talking points by special interests. The drought, not biofuels, caused commodity prices to increase. And when it comes to food prices, it is the record high energy prices of 2012 that are the true culprit. Just take a look at the facts — out of every food dollar, a farmer receives roughly 14 cents for the commodity, while the rest can be attributed to the energy intensive processes of packaging, processing, refrigeration and transportation.

The author also misses the most obvious point — natural gas is a finite resource and not “renewable.” Just a decade ago, supplies of natural gas were much smaller and our country was experiencing these supplies in higher prices for many manufactured goods. In fact, we were building more and more liquefied natural gas terminals to actually import natural gas. So now, some would have us make a risky bet on the future of natural gas — sounds as risky as betting on foreign oil.

If someone is truly concerned with our addiction to foreign oil, they should be more concerned about breaking the stranglehold oil has on our fuel distribution system. We must focus on the de facto 90 percent petroleum mandate and find ways to enact a meaningful “all of the above” approach that continues to push innovation of next-generation biofuels, while reducing our dependence on finite resources, such as natural gas.

Tom Buis is the CEO of Growth Energy.

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