OTHER VOICES: Support Siouxland economy by defending RFS

Source: Joel Jarman, general manager of POET Biorefining in Hudson, S.D., Sioux City Journal • Posted: Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Here in Siouxland, we know how important agriculture is to our economy and the important role biofuels plays in contributing value to the family farm. As general manager of POET Biorefining – Hudson, I am able to see firsthand the positive impact the industry has on local communities.

For example, in 2012 the South Dakota ethanol industry directly employed 1,900 people with an average annual salary of $60,000 and created an additional 7,600 indirect jobs. In Iowa, the renewable fuels industry has added $12.9 billion of income to the pockets of Iowans over the past decade.

A recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal reduces the volume of renewable fuel that will be blended into the fuel supply in 2014. The proposed ethanol reduction would result in more than a 500 million bushel drop in corn demand and would jeopardize many of the jobs the ethanol industry supports.

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has had a tremendously positive impact on reducing our nation’s dependence on unstable sources of foreign oil and has revitalized many rural communities across the country. The RFS was created to provide fuel diversity and break down barriers to market entry for alternative fuels, despite the oil industry’s objections. We’ve protected and subsidized foreign oil for far too long and now it’s time our country encouraged renewable methods to address the energy needs of the 21st century.

The EPA’s proposal will jeopardize the positive impact the RFS has created for consumers and would also stifle current and future multi-billion dollar investments in the next generation of biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol. POET, through a joint venture with Dutch-based DSM, is in the process of building a commercial cellulosic bio-ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa. This plant is on schedule for startup in the first part of 2014.

Every American will feel more pain at the pump if this proposal is finalized. Reducing ethanol volumes by 1.4 billion gallons will increase pump price by as much as eight cents per gallon and remove over $10 billion from our economy as we still struggle to increase growth. Today, ethanol displaces 10 percent of petroleum and independent analysis suggests this saves consumers anywhere from 50 cents to $1.50 at the pump. American consumers deserve the opportunity to choose cheaper choices at the pump and our nation deserves the security that comes from producing our own energy.

Thousands of men and women have bravely stepped forward to defend our country and trillions of dollars have been spent in order to protect the flow of oil. We must move our nation’s energy policy forward, not backward.

We have an opportunity to make our voices be heard and your assistance is requested. Visit http://growthenergy.org to submit your story to the EPA and tell them how a biofuels reduction will affect you, your family and your community. The deadline to submit comments is Jan. 28, so act now and encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Instead of standing up and supporting renewable biofuels and energy independence, this recent EPA proposal concedes to the will of the oil industry and its allies. I urge all in Siouxland to defend the RFS and protect our rural economies.

Joel Jarman is general manager of POET Biorefining in Hudson, S.D.