USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack last week said that “these past few years haven’t been easy for homegrown fuel and its supporters. We’ve had to set the record straight about the effects of ethanol production on food costs, we’ve worked to explain your contributions to the global feed market, and to remind people around the world about the amazing increases in efficiency you have made over the past decade,” during comments he made at the Renewable Fuels Association’s National Ethanol Conference last week.

The Secretary also said that there is a need to defend the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), level and expand markets for renewable fuels, and continue to invest in innovative emerging ethanol technologies. “This is obviously a very difficult budget environment,” Vilsack continued. “But we must continue to press forward. We need to provide a sustained and strong defense of the RFS2. We need to work together to help level the playing field so consumers have easy access to renewable fuels. And we need to help maintain ethanol production so you can serve as a platform for our transition to producing more advanced biofuels. All of those challenges rely on us to continue to be innovators,” he said.

Vilsack stated he was pleased with the action taken by EPA to allow registration of E15. “If we’re worried about the Straits of Hormuz, if we’re worried about Iran, one way we can be less stressed about this is getting E15 in the tanks of cars across this country,” he said.

The Secretary also said that, although E15 is important, so is maintaining the Renewable Fuel Standard. “Make no mistake about this. Just because it’s in the law doesn’t mean it will always be in the law.” Vilsack says the success of the ethanol industry has gotten the attention of the oil industry which is trying to modify or eliminate the RFS. “We need to make sure we maintain the Renewable Fuel Standard. It is important to the security of this country that we move toward that 36 billion gallon mark.”