Advertise in Print | Subscriptions
Published April 16, 2009, 07:52 AM

Opinion: Ethanol presents America with a real opportunity

America has a real opportunity to create more than 130,000 new jobs and pump billions of dollars into our economy at no cost to taxpayers.
It’s a solution with which South Dakotans are familiar, one that has already injected new revenue, new hope and a new sense of purpose into rural communities across the state and nation.
That solution is ethanol.

By: Jeff Broin, Guest columnist

America has a real opportunity to create more than 130,000 new jobs and pump billions of dollars into our economy at no cost to taxpayers.

It’s a solution with which South Dakotans are familiar, one that has already injected new revenue, new hope and a new sense of purpose into rural communities across the state and nation.

That solution is ethanol.

Allowing drivers the choice to use more than 10 percent ethanol (E10) would spur investment in both infrastructure and research and allow billions of American dollars to circulate in our economy rather than economies in the Middle East, Venezuela and other oil-producing areas.

The Green Jobs Waiver, which will allow up to 15 percent ethanol (E15) in our fuel, was recently submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency by Growth Energy, of which POET is a member. This is not a mandate; it simply gives drivers more choices.

Raising the allowed ethanol blend to 15 percent will create more than 136,000 new greencollar jobs and inject $24.4 billion into the American economy annually, according to a recent study by the Windmill Group, working with North Dakota State University researchers.

In South Dakota alone, we’d see 2,594 jobs and $419 million.

The science overwhelmingly shows that E15 has the same impact on engines and vehicle performance as the 40 billion gallons of E10 our country has already used. Thousands of hours of testing — on more than 100 vehicles with various engine types — have proven E15 is safe for our vehicles.

America would reap significant environmental benefits from the change. Ethanol produced from corn reduces greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 59 percent over gasoline, according to University of Nebraska, Lincoln, researchers. Producers over a recent fiveyear period increased ethanol production per bushel of corn while reducing the energy consumed in production by more than 20 percent and water use by more than 25 percent, thanks to technological breakthroughs that continue today.

The future of cellulosic ethanol — made from plant material such as wood and crop waste or grass — also hinges on raising this arbitrary cap. POET recently started up a pilot plant in Scotland that makes ethanol from corn cobs. But if ethanol is not allowed to compete with gasoline for more of the fuel supply, there will be no further investment in cellulosic ethanol. Our industry produces enough ethanol from corn to fulfill the demand from 10 percent blends. There is, frankly, no place to sell the product from a cellulosic ethanol plant.

E15 would strengthen national security. Ethanol already offsets well over 10 percent of our imported oil for gasoline, more than we import from Saudi Arabia. Every gallon of ethanol used here diminishes the influence of foreign governments on which we rely for oil.

South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Bill Even and the South Dakota Corn Growers Association support allowing E15. National, South Dakota’s Senators Tim Johnson and John Thune as well as Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin have expressed support, along with others including U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The industry also needs support from the public. The EPA will soon set a public comment regarding the waiver and I encourage South Dakotans to let their feelings be known on this important issue.

If you’d like to learn more about efforts to replace Middle East oil with South Dakota biofuel, visit the “E15 Action Center” at www.GoE15.com.

Tags: