The political landscape in Washington changed with the November elections, including that for ethanol.

In the past few months, Congress has seen fewer corn advocate members added to the freshman class and also to key committees such as the House Energy and Commerce Committee. In addition, shortly before Christmas, the White House announced the departure of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

It will be critical that the National Corn Growers Association use all opportunities to educate the new players on the importance of biofuels.

 “The upcoming year could be a challenging one for ethanol advocates,” NCGA President Pam Johnson said.

“At the same time, we see many new legislators and regulators coming to power. With fewer leaders from corn producing states, education and grassroots action will be essential to successfully defending the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

A request to waive the RFS was denied in 2012, but NCGA expects that issue to come under attack again. Rep. Fred Upton, Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has already signaled a plan to put the RFS on trial this year.

NCGA will also wait to see who is nominated as the new head of EPA. NCGA had a solid working relationship with Administrator Jackson, who worked to advance E15. This will decrease the nation’s dependence on foreign oil while offering consumers a wider range of fuel choice. NCGA is looking forward to continuing this work with the new administrator.

 “Last year, the EPA chose to deny requests to waive provisions of the RFS based upon the 2012 corn crop,” said Johnson.

“While this decision kept provisions in place for a time, we can expect more requests of the same nature should stocks remain low in 2013. We cannot rest upon our laurels and assume those in leadership positions understand the importance of biofuels. Again, I must stress the importance of grassroots activism, coupled with educational efforts, in maintaining the RFS and support for ethanol.”