US farmers can provide long-term energy and climate solutions
Before the sun rises and you go to bed long after it sets, farmers spend their days supporting our nation. Indeed, in times of crisis, American farmers have always been there to help. During the Civil War, farmers provided the troops with food, clothing, and transportation. During World War II, they accelerated production to feed American forces and their allies in Europe.
American farmers are stepping up to meet again as our nation and the world face an ongoing energy crisis while battling the effects of record high inflation and tackling climate change.
Even though gas prices have started to trend downward and the national average for AAA has fallen below $4 a gallon, consumers are still feeling the pinch and some analysts warn that gas prices could rise to $5 a gallon later this year. With energy costs continuing to be a major driver of inflation, US households remain vulnerable to volatility in energy markets as geopolitical instability in Europe threatens global fuel supplies.
Farmers and truck drivers are feeling the burden, too. The Department of Agriculture estimates that the combined cost of fuel, lubrication, and electricity for American farmers is expected to increase 34% in 2022.
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We must continue to focus on long-term solutions to diversify the nation’s fuel supply, increase US energy independence, and insulate consumers from the vagaries of fossil fuels. Ethanol, made from corn produced by American farmers, is key to providing the stability and long-term relief consumers need — all while helping to clean up transportation by lowering carbon and tailpipe emissions.
American consumers agree. A recent Morning Consult poll conducted earlier this year showed that 60% of respondents said ethanol could increase America’s energy independence and help the United States achieve its goal of reducing carbon emissions, while 58% of respondents believed ethanol could increase America’s energy independence and help the United States achieve its goal of reducing carbon emissions. It can help lower gas prices.
In fact, ethanol was priced at up to $1 per gallon less than unblended gasoline at the wholesale level, and drivers were saving upwards of 30 cents or more per gallon as retailers offer an E15 option. The science is on our side: Analysis from the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory concludes that ethanol today produces up to 52% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline.
Ethanol is already adding billions of gallons of dollars to the US fuel supply, offsetting the demand for higher-cost oil, supporting cleaner air and increasing the total fuel available to consumers. But we can and must do more to expand fuel choices for consumers and make ethanol more accessible across the country.
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We’re making progress, and the proof is at the pump with the savings consumers found this summer with the E15, marketed as Unleaded 88 by several leading retailers. Rather than allowing litigation to prevent consumer choice, the EPA used common sense and maintained market access for a low-cost, low-emissions E15 this summer. The House also passed legislation to reform the outdated fuel rule, putting the ball in play for the Senate to finally update politics with the flag and drivers.
Looking to the future and learning from price volatility, we need to take more steps for long-term energy security. A bipartisan group in Congress, led by Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, in the Senate and Representative Sherry Bustos, D-House, is pushing for the Next Generation Fuel Act. This legislation will increase our fuel supply through the expanded use of low-carbon ethanol to improve engine efficiency, reduce emissions and offer consumers more options to save money at the pump.
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The Next Generation Fuel Act is the kind of innovative solution that can help address our energy and climate challenges. Without better fuels on the market, automakers cannot deploy advanced engine designs that make vehicles more fuel-efficient and reduce emissions, ultimately reducing drivers’ choices.
This is a logical step to enhance our energy security in the long term, with cleaner fuels and vehicles working together to provide more diverse and affordable solutions to consumers as our nation transitions to cleaner transportation. Blending more low-carbon, low-cost ethanol makes these advanced fuels and vehicles possible.
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Through war, economic meltdowns, global pandemics, and now the energy and climate crisis, farmers always rise to the challenge. By expanding ethanol options at the pump, not only can we make everyday life more affordable for Americans—we can make meaningful environmental progress by making more use of our renewable resources from rural America.