E15, a local opportunity Missouri can count on
Did you know that the size of the domestic gasoline market in the United States is larger than the following 10 countries combined? That’s why increasing the share of renewable fuels in Missouri’s gasoline tank represents the greatest opportunity to grow our rural economy and stimulate reliable grain demand for family farmers.
Since early March, China has given U.S. farmers a temporary boost by purchasing more than 736 million bushels of U.S. corn. Last October, China also resumed buying ethanol after years of trade disputes. These massive purchases have contributed to raising corn prices and boosting the entire agricultural sector. But can farmers continue to rely on Chinese exports to increase demand in the long run? The answer is, we don’t need – if we’re expanding our use of biofuels.
As Show-Me State, Missourians will rightly want to see the facts with their own eyes. In this case, they speak for themselves. Ethanol produced in Missouri is already a vital industry, boosting the rural economy and providing well-paying jobs. Missouri’s six ethanol plants provide a value-added market for thousands of family farmers. Together, they support more than 5,700 jobs and contribute $ 4 billion annually to the state.
And the best way to develop that opportunity is to expand access to E15 – a 15% renewable fuel blend made from grains grown right here in Missouri. Gasoline today is made up of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline, commonly known as E10. Offering E15 to more gas stations across the state represents an extraordinary opportunity to develop national markets for both renewable biofuels and grains while increasing the income of local farming families – using the same vehicles and infrastructure. supply that we have today.
Recent research shows that replacing E10 with E15 across Missouri could boost demand for an additional 53 million bushels of local corn per year, with a farm gate value of $ 195 million. The fuel change won’t happen overnight, but the data shows the potential of E15 for farmers in the near future.
E15 not only means more farm income – it promises new jobs and additional investment in rural areas. It also means less reliance on future exports to China and unreliable subsidies from the federal government. In fact, the economic activity generated by the full switch to E15 would add more than $ 370 million to Missouri’s GDP and household income of $ 110 million. It could also generate nearly $ 33 million in national and local tax revenue.
And the benefits don’t end there: Higher ethanol blends like E15 reduce emissions and make our air cleaner. A suit study has shown that ethanol reduces life cycle greenhouse gas emissions by 46% compared to conventional gasoline. A full switch to E15 statewide would reduce nearly 350,000 metric tonnes of GHG emissions, the equivalent of removing more than 76,000 cars from Missouri roads each year.
Ethanol also replaces harmful carcinogens and toxic additives in gasoline – making our communities healthier. Ethanol blends reduce toxic emissions and ultrafine particles by up to 50 percent, benefiting densely populated urban neighborhoods that have suffered disproportionately from air pollution and related health risks. Because it doesn’t require new cars – and saves drivers money every time they refuel – the E15 offers a cleaner, more accessible and affordable fuel alternative for everyone.
Last month, the U.S. EPA, Kansas, and Missouri ad an agreement to update fuel requirements in the Kansas City metro area to allow the E15 to be sold in the region year-round. State agencies and farm groups applauded the move as a way to protect the environment, air quality and human health.
This year our state legislature has the opportunity to harness the benefits of biofuels by encouraging E15 sales across the state. Other Midwestern states are working to support E15, and Missouri lawmakers are considering market-based incentives to get even more fuel retailers to offer E15 – giving more consumers access to the E15. E15 at the pump.
E15 is more than a way to protect farmers when grain exports fall flat. This can generate opportunities and generate savings for all Missourians for decades to come.
Steve Murphy is president of the Missouri Renewable Fuels Association and CEO of POET Biorefining-Laddonia.