Farm Industry News Blog

Biofuels’ Significance to Economy, National Security

Iowa Lt. Gov. Patty JudgeGen. Wesley ClarkBiofuels contribute significantly to America’s economy and national security. Just how significantly was symbolized by a long line of American flags streaming along the long driveway leading up to POET’s Project Liberty Field Day site and speeches by General Wesley Clark and Iowa Lt. Governor Patty Judge on Nov. 3 in Emmetsburg, IA.

“Ethanol is here now, it’s green and it’s made in America,” said General Clark, who served as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO from 1997 to 2000. Clark also serves as co-chairman of Growth Energy, an organization dedicated to decreasing America’s dependence on foreign oil, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and expanding the use of ethanol in gasoline.

Clark told farmers and others at the field day that if the U.S. were to go from gasoline blends of 10 percent to 15 percent, we could stop importing as much as one billion barrels of oil per day. By utilizing E15, America could also stop between $300 billion to $500 billion per year from going outside the country to support leaders like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, who has been a critic of U.S. foreign policies.

Moreover, corn-based ethanol produces 60 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline over its entire life cycle, Clark said. Cellulosic ethanol will produce between 80-90 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline, he added.

POET, which held the field day to demonstrate new corn cob harvesting equipment, plans to produce cellulosic ethanol from corn cobs by the end of 2011. Design work has begun for a 25-million-gallon-per-year cellulosic ethanol facility, which will be attached to POET’s existing corn ethanol plant in Emmetsburg.

A full-fledged cellulosic ethanol industry could create as many as 500,000 jobs nationwide. “We have the skills and energy to take this all the way,” Clark said. He encouraged attendees to raise their voices in Washington, D.C. by joining Growth Energy’s “Growth Force,” a bipartisan group that promotes homegrown energy such as ethanol and works on government policies that, for example, would mandate E15 and challenge international indirect land use charges being weighed against U.S. agriculture. For more information, visit www.GrowthForce.org. “Growth Force is an express lane to Washington,” Clark said.

During her speech, Iowa Lt. Governor Judge recalled ethanol’s beginnings as “gasohol” and how, 30 years later, biofuels are now having a profound effect on agriculture. Judge noted that cellulosic ethanol is now here and it’s viable. Project Liberty is going to keep Iowa on the forefront of technology, she said.

Judge added that the state of Iowa is helping the cellulosic ethanol industry by providing $20 million in funding. The cellulosic ethanol industry will “help create good paying jobs at a time when Iowa needs jobs desperately.”

The state government has been working hard to increase the number of blender pumps in Iowa and also working with officials in Washington to approve the E15 waiver request.

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