Big oil joins forces with agriculture for ethanol expansion

Feb 08, 2024


The oil industry and agricultural sector have set aside their long-standing rivalry to back a bipartisan initiative promoting the use of ethanol in American vehicles.  This collaboration supports Senator Deb Fischer's proposal for year-round nationwide sales of E15, a fuel blend containing 15% ethanol, aiming to modernize the fuel supply amidst the rise of electric vehicles (EVs).  

The relationship between America’s petroleum producers and farmers has been fraught with conflict, dating back to the early 20th century. Ethanol, once hailed by Henry Ford as the fuel of the future, found itself sidelined by the oil industry's rise.  

The push for ethanol resurfaced in the late 1970s to reduce dependence on petroleum, leading to a mandate in the early 2000s for its inclusion in the national fuel supply.  

The Biden administration is promoting EV adoption, recognizing the benefits of promoting liquid renewable fuels like ethanol. The American Petroleum Institute and National Corn Growers Association are supporting legislation to ensure E15 sales' sustainability throughout the year, addressing potential market disruptions and environmental challenges caused by seasonal restrictions.  

The Fischer bill seeks to provide market certainty and support the renewable fuels sector without necessitating expensive new infrastructure, contrasting with state-level proposals that could lead to regulatory fragmentation.  

Despite facing opposition from some quarters, including independent refiners concerned about biofuel compliance costs, the bill has garnered support from a wide array of political and industry groups.  This coalition's efforts mark a significant departure from past practices, highlighting a newfound willingness to collaborate on common goals in the energy and agricultural landscapes.  

As this alliance between oil and farm groups solidifies, it opens the door for future cooperation on a range of issues, underscoring the evolving dynamics of energy lobbying and the shared interest in sustainable fuel solutions. 

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