At this point in time the ethanol industry is currently hitting a “blend wall”. Basically we are running out of gasoline to blend our ethanol into. In fact, we are presently exporting a fair share of the ethanol our United States farmers are producing. It is an absolute shame that we are unable to use a larger portion of our own product and not have to rely on foreign countries for our oil.
Here’s where it gets complicated, so bear with me.
According to the law passed in 2007, corn based ethanol (referred to as a biorenewable fuel in the law) was limited to only fifteen billion gallons by 2015. Due to the determination of the American farmer, we are already close to this goal in 2010. But the law states that the rest of the biofuels we use in America must be “advanced biofuels.” Advanced biofuels are biofuels that have a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline. Most believed that the advanced biofuels they described would be cellulosic ethanol from switchgrass and other crops, but this industry is not anywhere near this mark due to high costs and lack of development.
Corn based ethanol has hit the mark. Depending on how you measure greenhouse gas emissions (which is another problem – there is little sound science in this area, but that’s another discussion) corn-based ethanol is 50% better than gasoline, but is expressly denied from the “advanced biofuel” category in the law.
So that’s what Illinois corn farmers want for Christmas this year … a legislative change that allows corn-based ethanol to compete for the “advanced biofuel” slot. We aren’t asking that any of the requirements be reduced, just that we be allowed to compete. This is an important distinction.
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