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Administrator Johnson, 12th Annual National Ethanol Conference, Tucson, A.Z.

02/20/2007
Thank you for the introduction, Bob (Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association).

It’s a pleasure to once again address the National Ethanol Conference. I see ethanol as one of those forward-thinking industries that is paving a new path on America’s alternative energy frontier.

And as my flight took off last night – allowing me to escape the frozen tundra of Washington, D.C. for the sunny, beautiful skies of Tucson, Arizona – I was once again struck by the remarkable forethought of the ethanol industry. Anyone who holds their annual conference in February, should follow your lead by meeting in warm locations like Las Vegas and Tucson.

But truly, it’s an honor to be asked to speak with you again this year. And looking back, what a year it has been.

When the President mentioned “ethanol” in his 2006 State of the Union Address, it was likely many in the country had never heard the word before. Now, just one year later, even the term, “cellulosic ethanol” is part of the national discourse.

Through your efforts and with the support of many others, domestic ethanol production is at an all time high of 4-point-9 billion gallons annually … about two-and-a-half times what it was five years ago. Renewable fuels are now blended in 46 percent of our domestic fuel supply – another all time high. I’m told 113 plants are coming on-line with an additional production capacity of 5-point-6 billion gallons, and that 79 new plants are under construction which will produce yet another 6 billion gallons of ethanol. Those are impressive statistics.

This is but the latest, greatest example of what America can achieve when we are focused on a goal. And setting ambitious goals is something my boss, the President of the United States, has clearly done in the energy arena.

In this year’s State of the Union Address, President Bush announced his "Twenty In Ten" plan – reducing U.S. gasoline usage by 20 percent in 10 years. The President’s plan will strengthen our nation’s energy security by jumping off the treadmill of foreign oil dependency, and by promoting the development of homegrown, renewable energy sources.

As you know, part of the plan calls for the increased use of renewable and alternative fuels – 35 billion gallons by the year 2017. By setting this ambitious 10-year target, at a level that is nearly five times the size of the current Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS, the President’s plan charts a path forward for the nation’s energy security and provides additional incentives for investment by the private sector. I look forward to working with Congress to pass the President’s alternative fuel proposal.

Bottom line - alternative domestic sources of energy are good for our economy, good for our energy security … and are good for our environment.

EPA’s analysis of the current RFS shows the increased use of renewable fuels, like ethanol, will reduce some traditional car pollutants, such as benzene and carbon monoxide. In addition, our models show the RFS will reduce carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions by 9 to 14 million tons. And, while pollutants that contribute to ozone may slightly increase as a result of additional ethanol use, they can be effectively managed by the suite of tools available under the Clean Air Act.

The Administration’s commitment to promoting the increased use of renewable and alternative fuels is continuing America’s drive toward cleaner air, a healthier economy, and a more secure energy future.

As a complement to our efforts under the RFS and the “Twenty in Ten” goal, the President has called for a dramatic investment in technology research. His Fiscal Year 2008 budget requests 2-point-7-billion-dollars to support the Advanced Energy Initiative – an increase of 26 percent above the 2007 request and 53 percent above 2006. The President is also focused on increasing investment in bio-diesel fuels and new methods of producing ethanol and other biofuels.

Under President Bush’s leadership, America is retooling its fuel supply to deliver a cleaner, healthier, more secure future.

In addition to working cooperatively with our partners to meet these ambitious goals, we in the federal government must also lead by example.

To help meet the President's “Twenty In Ten” goal, the federal government will improve its environmental and energy performance. In January, President Bush signed an Executive Order requiring federal agencies to institute effective environmental, energy, and transportation management efforts.

These measures include reducing petroleum consumption in fleet vehicles by two percent annually through 2015, and increasing alternative fuel consumption by at least 10 percent annually.

Our buildings will get greener as well. The President has required that at least 50 percent of agencies' current renewable energy purchase requirement come from new renewable sources, and that they cut their energy intensity by 3 percent annually, or 30 percent by 2015.

Leading by example, the federal government’s investments in new energy sources will help diversify America's energy supply, help protect our environment, and help meet the President’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.

President Bush recognizes that strengthening our energy security can also dramatically improve our environment. And just like the President, I believe renewable fuels are the next step in our steady march toward cleaner, healthier air.

EPA is addressing our nation’s growing energy demand in a way that supports our goals for a clean environment and a healthy economy. And we aren’t doing it alone.


I want to take this opportunity to update you on the progress that has been made – with your help – in moving to finalize the rule for the RFS. As you know, we proposed the rule last September, and we are currently moving it through the regulatory process. I anticipate being able to sign the rule and send it to the Federal Register for publication within the next few weeks. Once again, I sincerely appreciate the efforts of those – many of which are here today – who have partnered with EPA to construct this outstanding program.

A few years ago, I doubt too many people around the country looked at a soybean or an ear of corn and saw its potential for powering their car. But through the final RFS, 7-point-5 billion gallons of homegrown, renewable fuel will be pumped into gas-tanks across the country by 2012.

Doubling the amount of renewable fuels produced from American crops means a lot more soybeans, sunflower seeds and corn, as well as other material like cellolosic biomass and restaurant grease, will be turned into fuel.

From bushels to barrels, farming communities are helping protect the environment and reduce our addiction to foreign oil.

EPA is also proud to be helping our partners find the soybeans and ears of corn of tomorrow. By working in collaboration, not confrontation, we are encouraging voluntary renewable energy programs that are powering our nation’s economy and driving our environmental successes.

Through the National Clean Diesel Campaign, EPA is working with our partners to implement voluntary, cost-effective strategies to achieve emissions reductions. Together, we are making the black puff of diesel smoke a thing of the past.

EPA is also partnering with industry on the “SmartWay” Transport Partnership that encourages trucking fleet owners and shippers to use fuel efficient strategies and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And just last fall, I launched the SmartWay “Grow and Go” program, which adds a renewable fuel component to our successful SmartWay program. “Grow and Go” is yet another way President Bush is moving the fuels of the future into the market today.

These are exciting times for America. The President has set big goals for our nation’s energy security, economic well-being and environmental health … and I am confident that we can meet those goals, in part through the innovative spirit of the people in this very room.

The ethanol industry is advancing the technology to power our nation’s economy and drive our environmental successes.

EPA appreciates your contributions to the health and prosperity of our nation – and I know the President thanks you as well.

Once again, I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today. I wish you luck on the remainder of your conference, and for continued success in 2007.

Thank you.