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Growth Energy Says Keeping Renewable Fuel Standard Is Priority

Growth Energy, an ethanol trade group, said one of its priorities for 2012 will be persuading U.S. lawmakers to stick with a government mandate for the nation to use escalating amounts of the biofuel.

Under a law signed in 2007, U.S refiners are required to utilize 15 billion gallons of renewable fuels such as ethanol by 2015 and 36 billion gallons, including the cellulosic variety and biodiesel, by 2022.

The industry will make it a priority to counter critics who contend that the standard and ethanol, which is made mostly from corn in the U.S., lead to higher food prices, Growth Energy Chief Executive Tom Buis and President Jim Nussle said today on a conference call with reporters.

That will help identify arguments that may come up if there’s any congressional consideration of doing away with the policy, they said.

Buis said he’s already heard critics alluding to modifications of the so-called Renewable Fuels Standard. A tax credit that’s helped the industry since Jimmy Carter was president is set to expire at the end of this month.

Denatured ethanol for January delivery rose 1.7 cents, or 0.8 percent, to settle at $2.157 a gallon on the Chicago Board of Trade. Futures have fallen 9.3 percent this year and are headed for the first yearly decline since 2008.

The Environmental Protection Agency granted a request from Growth Energy this year to boost the allowable amount of ethanol in gasoline to 15 percent from 10 percent, a measure that still hasn’t been implemented at a majority of U.S. filling stations, Nussle said.

Poet LLC, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is the largest U.S. ethanol producer, followed by Archer Daniels Midland Co. in Decatur, Illinois.

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