Hello, I'm Mark Pearson. Coinciding ironically with the annual festival in Pamplona, Spain, the REAL "Running of the Bulls" this week was on Wall Street, where the major stock indices rallied with their best 4-day streak since May. And only a few people were gored -- at least in Spain...
The Dow jumped back above 10,000 Wednesday to post its first back-to-back gains since the middle of June. The rally continued on Thursday, when the Labor Department reported initial claims for unemployment fell last week to their lowest level since early May.
Overseas markets also rallied this week after the International Monetary Fund raised its world growth estimate for the year to 4.6 percent. That, in turn, pushed the euro to its highest level since May.
And the Energy Information Administration reports demand for the Fourth of July holiday weekend drove production of ethanol-blended gasoline to an all-time high of more than 5 million barrels per day last week.
Nevertheless, proponents say a federal limit on the amount of ethanol allowed in America's gasoline, and the looming expiration of a key tax credit, threaten their industry's ability to expand. And they're calling on the Obama Administration to act now on their behalf.
To that end, Growth Energy, a promotional group representing some of the nation's leading ethanol producers, announced a new national campaign.
The initiative has two objectives: to extend a 45-cent per gallon tax credit for blenders, and to increase the current EPA-approved blend rate from 10 percent ethanol to 15 percent. The co-chair of Growth Energy, retired General Wesley Clark, says his new mission is to create U.S. jobs and increase national security.
Clark made stops in several states this week, including one at Hawkeye Renewable Holdings in Iowa... the nation's top ethanol-producing state.
Gen. Wesley Clark (Ret.), Co-Chair, Growth Energy: "We're talking about building a domestic fuels industry that's American." Clark says investors are looking for long-term stability beyond temporary milestones before backing companies to help grow the industry.
According to Growth Energy, increasing the current blend rate of 10 percent ethanol, commonly known as "E10" to 15 percent, or "E15," would create 136,000 permanent jobs across the Midwest.
Gen. Wesley Clark (Ret.), Co-Chair, Growth Energy: "This is big business. And it is job creation, and these are jobs that can never be outsourced. Why wouldn't we want to do this and do it quickly?"
Clark and Hawkeye Renewables CEO, Bruce Rastetter -- a member of Growth Energy -- believe it's time to reauthorize the U.S. import tariff on foreign ethanol -- previously set at 54 cents per gallon. The duo also called on Congress to extend the blenders tax credit, which is scheduled to expire on December 31.
Rastetter also wants consumers to have greater flexibility to choose their own optimum blend at the pump.
Bruce Rastetter CEO, Hawkeye Renewable Holdings: "We need open market access and infrastructure so if you have flex fuel vehicles and blenders pumps, that can dial any level of ethanol, whether e10, e20 or e40 or e85, then you have market access."
Citing the need for further analysis, the Department of Energy continues to test increased blends of ethanol. Clark believes it will be November before EPA finally approves E15. The retired general and one-time presidential candidate says increased blend rates are critical to the development of so-called, "next generation" biofuels, like cellulosic ethanol. AND he says they play a pivotal role in weaning America from its addiction to foreign oil.
Gen. Wesley Clark (Ret.), Co-Chair, Growth Energy: "You'll never get cellousic ethanol in this country if we don't go to E15 because you won't have the demand for it. So what we need right now is a vision that says, this bio-industry is for real."