Skor to FEW: Battles ahead are tough, but we can win

By Lisa Gibson | June 12, 2018

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor told attendees of the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo that no other industry can hold a candle to the pace of growth of the ethanol industry. The industry is coming out with new yeast strains, new processes, new ways to increase crop yields and more, she said.

Skor delivered the keynote address at the 34th annual FEW, held June 11 to 13 in Omaha. She focused on the state of the industry, making note of the fact that the number of retail stations selling E15 has doubled for four years in a row, largely because of Growth Energy’s Prime the Pump initiative, which helps retailers set up infrastructure for E15 and blender pumps. “E10 is a floor, not a ceiling,” she said. Currently, 1,400 retailers sell E15 in 29 states. The average Prime the Pump station sells three 30 to 40 percent more ethanol than a typical retailer, she said.

Skor discussed the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) barrier, effectively barring E15 sales between June and September. It could be the year’s biggest battle, she said. “We want to make sure this is the last summer consumers are cut off from E15.” It can cost retailers up to $1.5 million per year to relabel pumps, she added.

“RVP relief could put us on course for an additional 1.3 billion (gallons of) ethanol demand in the next five years.” That figure is not “pie in the sky,” she noted. “It’s a reflection of the E15 market that we’ve created.”

Skor criticized U.S. EPA Administer Scott Pruitt’s neglect to follow the directives of President Donald Trump in preserving and encouraging biofuels support, urging FEW attendees to help hold Pruitt accountable.

“Americans and the world deserve year-round access to high-end biofuels and that is exactly what we plan to deliver.” The domestic market provides the key for steady growth, so it’s crucial to protect legislation like the Renewable Fuel Standard, Skor said. Any high-octane fuel standard should complement, not replace the RFS, she specified, emphasizing that biofuels need to be a part of any long-term plan for engine efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction.

The ethanol industry is also working to open worldwide markets. “Our industry sponsored or participated in 19 overseas missions. We filed comments, pressed legal challenges and educated leaders across the globe.” In 2017, the U.S. ethanol industry delivered 1.37 billion gallons to trading partners around the world, she said.

 “Our critics are more active than ever, not because we are weak, but because we are strong,” she said, adding it’s important to “pull the legs out from under the misinformation campaigns.” The most devious deception, she said, is the notion that the RFS expires in 2022. “It does not expire in 2022.”

She called for attendees to participate in fly-ins, conferences, to Tweet, retweet, post comments and actively advocate for ethanol.

“With your help, we can tear down the roadblocks in our way and propel this industry forward on a scale our opponents will never see coming. … Winning yesterday’s victories has not been easy. And we’ve got the scars to show it.

“The battles ahead are tougher,” Skor told her audience. “They’re higher-stakes and we need to remind ourselves that we can win.”