The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality earlier this week held a hearing on implementation of the new Renewable Fuel Standard.
Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-S.D.), Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Assistant Administrator Robert Meyers, Bob Dinneen with the Renewable Fuels Association, Nathanael Greene with the Natural Resources Defense Council, Randy Kremer of KL Process Design Group, and Dr. Mark Stowers with POET were among those who testified.
A strong corn to ethanol business and infrastructure is crucial to the development of cellulosic ethanol. Without it, cellulosic ethanol will be delayed. The corn to ethanol industry can provide existing grower networks, production knowledge, product, market and logistics knowledge to emerging cellulose producers and a distribution infrastructure. Financial lenders will support cellulosic ethanol provided there is a strong corn to ethanol industry.
“The RFS provides an important target for cellulosic ethanol – a real and attainable target. Continued support of the RFS will be important in demonstrating to the ethanol, transportation fuel and financial industries that there will be a market for ethanol.”
You can view the testimony on the Energy Committee Web site.
The testimony points up something that is being missed in the current debates over the merits of corn ethanol: corn ethanol producers such as POET are among the early adopters of advanced biofuel technology.
Robert Zubrin, author, and Gal Luft, executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, wrote an interesting opinion piece in the Chicago Tribune this week.
It seems so obvious: With so much corn being turned into fuel, food shortages must inevitably result, and biofuel programs must be the cause. However, that’s completely untrue.
“Here are the facts. In the last five years, despite the nearly threefold growth of the corn ethanol industry (or actually because of it), the U.S. corn crop grew by 35 percent, the production of distillers grain (a high-value animal feed made from the protein saved from the corn used for ethanol) quadrupled and the net corn food and feed product of the U.S. increased 26 percent.
“Agriculture is not a zero-sum game. There are 800 million acres of farmland in the U.S., and only about 30 percent of it is actually being used to grow anything. As a result of the ethanol program, the corn price received by farmers doubled over the last five years, causing a huge increase in the amount grown in terms of acreage and yield.”
And farmer Matt Gerhold of Kirksville, Mo., added similar thoughts to the debate taking place on the Chicago Tribune web site.
Farmers have been entrusted with the resources to provide essentials for all of us: food and now fuel. It is a responsibility that has been earned. It is a responsibility that has never been waived despite our long history of unfounded complaints about how farmers do it and our refusal to pay break-even prices for it. In the history of the U.S, providing enough food for Americans is a job that has always been done even when farmers faced economic hardships.
“How much more food will farmers produce when ethanol is providing the finances to grow even more? More than enough.”