By CELESTE BAUMGARTNER
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A coalition of advanced and traditional renewable fuel stakeholders have joined forces to defend America’s Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). The coalition, called Fuels America, came about because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has considered waiving the RFS.
Mark Borer, president of the Ohio Ethanol Producers Assoc. and general manager of a POET Ethanol Plant in Leipsic, Tadd Nicholson, executive director of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Assoc., and Mike Irmen, vice president of the Ethanol Group, The Andersons, Inc., talked about their participation in and support of Fuels America.
“Fuels America is committed to protecting the federal RFS, which is a law that promotes the benefits of all types of renewable fuels,” Borer said. “This national coalition will be active in Ohio and across the country and will help to promote the core principle that renewable fuels are making a difference in Ohio’s economy, our local communities and in our nation’s energy security.”
The drought has placed pressure on many farmers and businesses that use corn, but this should not be a reason to attack the RFS, which was designed to handle unpredictable situations such as this one, Borer said. “Renewable fuels support more than 500,000 jobs nationwide, with the potential to grow that figure significantly in the years to come,” he said. “However, it is not just jobs, the economy, and the biofuels and ag industry that benefit. Ethanol and the RFS are also essential to our energy policy and national security.”
Renewable fuels have helped reduce U.S. imports of Persian Gulf oil by 25 percent since 2000, Borer said. Americans saved $50 billion in imported fuel costs in 2011 thanks to the renewable fuels. In fact in 2011, he said studies showed gas prices were reduced by approximately $1.09 per gallon because of ethanol blends, saving the average American household $1,200 on their gas bill.
Nicholson said he represented all Ohio grain farmers but especially the 6,000 who are delivering corn to Ohio ethanol plants – an opportunity not available a few years ago.
“Farmers have experienced a very frustrating growing season with the drought in Ohio that was also experienced by about 60 percent of our country,” he said. “Still, we have the technology and the innovation that we have been able to produce what is expected by USDA to be one of the top eight corn harvests in our history.”
Today’s technology has enabled producers, through biotechnology, precision agriculture and GPS technology, to manage risk in years like this, Nicholson said. Even with the drought, American farmers are confident they can produce corn for all markets including livestock, exports, food production and the growing ethanol market.
“It used to be we would produce corn in Ohio and ship it to other areas of the country to have value added to it,” he said. “What bringing ethanol production to the state has done, is allowed us to turn that corn into a higher value product and then export that to other areas.”
“One of the key goals of the American Fuels Coalition is to place a spotlight on the positive impact that ethanol has across the nation but, particularly, here in Ohio,” said Irmen. “Renewable fuel has driven a $500 billion increase in America’s farm assets since 2007. Ohio claims its fair share of those asset valuations.”
Ohio’s ethanol industry spends more than $600 million each year purchasing goods and services from farmers and other Ohio businesses, he said.
“The Andersons, Inc. operates Ohio’s ethanol plant in Greenville Ohio in Darke County,” he added. “I can tell you that as a result of our building and operating that plant, we’ve added over 100 permanent jobs.
“We also generate additional coal products that complement our ethanol production that further benefit the state. In addition to the 1.4 million tons of high-protein animal feed, distillers grain, that Ohio’s ethanol plants produce yearly, some of Ohio’s plants, including ours, produce carbon dioxide that is used by the beverage bottlers and dry ice producers. We produce corn oil that can be used in feed, biodiesel and other industrial products, as well as finished E85 that is sold directly to retail gas stations to be used in flex-fueled vehicles.”
The campaign has launched a national digital platform at www.fuelsamerica. org and on Twitter @FuelsAmerica.