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Ethanol group: cutting E15 hurts U.S. energy security

DANIEL LOOKER 02/24/2011 @ 2:58pm Business Editor

Leaders of Growth Energy said Thursday that stopping EPA from writing gas pump labels and rules for 15% ethanol blends (E15) is the wrong thing to do when U.S. national security is threatened by oil supply interruptions in the Middle East and Africa.

They called on the U.S. Senate to reject an amendment sponsored by Representative John Sullivan (R-OK) that stops EPA from spending this fiscal year on implementing E15 for the rest of this fiscal year that ends in October. It was part of the House bill passed last week that trims federal spending by some $61 billion from 2010 levels.

“This amendment doesn’t save much money. It’s not about balancing the budget. It’s about lining the pockets of special interests,” said Tom Buis, Growth Energy’s CEO during a press conference Thursday.

It’s aimed at stopping the growth of ethanol use in the nation’s fuel supply, Buis said. His group argues that higher blends would increase U.S. energy independence, just as oil prices have passed $100 a barrel and threaten the economic recovery. And it would generate jobs and reduce greenhouse gases.

Growth Energy president and COO, Jim Nussle, said the current crisis is the result of 40 years without a coherent energy policy that would reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil. Nussle, a former Iowa Republican Congressman who chaired the House Budget Committee and later headed the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush, said he shares the current concern over the federal deficit. He calls it dependence on foreign creditors.

But the U.S. can’t depend on foreign oil, either, which costs the nation $300 billion a year, he said.  “You have to take on both.”

Growth Energy Co-chairman, retired General Wesley Clark, said that the agricultural community needs to reach out to Congress to show support for expanding ethanol. “I hope your readers will understand that their voice is important,” he said.

“This is a very significant national security problem. We’ve got to move forward, now,” he said.

In a statement after the vote on his amendment last week, Representative Sullivan said his amendment protects consumers.

My amendment ensures consumer safety, plain and simple.  The EPA has completely ignored calls from lawmakers, industry, environmental and consumer groups to address important safety issues raised by the 50% increase in the ethanol mandate issued over the past year.  Putting E15 into our general fuel supply could adversely impact up to 60% of cars on the road today– leading to consumer confusion at the pump and possible engine failure in the cars they drive,” Sullivan said.

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02/24/2011 @ 3:06pm What is this country going to do when gas hits 5.00 a gallon?

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