It’s more important than ever to stress the importance of renewable fuels and the role ethanol plays in our air quality. We should take every step possible to protect our environment, and supporting ethanol is a large part of that. As the growing season gets underway, it’s time we remind folks about the benefits of corn-based ethanol.
Compared to gasoline, ethanol significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves air quality. Based on studies conducted for the USDA, corn-based ethanol has the potential to help us reach a reduction in greenhouse gasses of nearly 75 percent in the next five years. Ethanol contains 35 percent more oxygen to assist in more complete fuel combustion, which means less harmful tailpipe emissions.
We all have a choice when we fuel up; why not choose an American-produced, renewable fuel, and cleaner air? E15 is a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline. Currently, almost every gas station in America sells a 10 percent blend, but many more are starting to offer E15. E15 is approved for any vehicle manufactured since 2001 — nearly nine out of 10 cars on the road today — and it contains more ethanol, which means lower prices, cleaner air and better performance.
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Stimulating growth in ethanol demand is not just good for our environment. It is a benefit to our nation by providing consumers with better, homegrown, less expensive fuel, which increases our energy independence and provides nearly 360,000 industry jobs.
Agriculture is a critically important facet of our nation’s food security, our nation’s economy, as well as our nation’s energy independence. Farmers are stewards of the land and environment; they practice sustainability through land conservation and preservation, and with the help of technology and science are able to produce more with less. The techniques available to farmers today are amazing.
Globally, coarse grains used for ethanol production have increased, while the amount of land used to grow these grains has decreased 6.7 percent between 1980 and 2015, according to the USDA.
During this time period, grain production more than doubled in the U.S. on fewer acres and best of all, producers cut nutrient use (i.e. nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium) in half.
Congress created the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand the nation’s renewable fuels sector while reducing reliance on imported oil. It requires transportation fuel sold in the United States to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels.
Most gasoline used in the United States is blended to E10, which contains up to 10 percent ethanol. A change in the RFS in 2015 created incentives to make greater use of E85 and E15, which contain more ethanol.
The RFS as it stands now is working and is important to economic resurgence for rural Colorado, and ultimately, our nation. It’s encouraging that President Trump stated earlier this month he is committed to supporting the RFS and year-round E15. We are now asking Congress to do the same.
Increasing the use of ethanol benefits our nation and our citizenry because ethanol is a homegrown, less expensive fuel, resulting in cleaner air. And that’s something we should all get behind for Earth Month and every month of the year.
Mark Sponsler is CEO of the Colorado Corn Growers Association.