Poet CEO says Clinton, Trump know importance of ethanol

Source: By Christopher Doering, Des Moines Register • Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2016

WASHINGTON — The head of ethanol giant Poet is optimistic presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton back renewable fuels despite recent developments that have left some in the industry uncertain about their positions.

Jeff Broin, the founder and chief executive of Poet, said Wednesday the ethanol industry has worked closely with the two major party presidential nominees, along with members of Congress, to tout the benefits of ethanol and other renewable fuels for air quality, automobiles and farmers in rural America.

“We’re confident that both candidates understand the importance of ethanol and biofuels,” he said in an interview. “We have worked very hard to make sure both candidates understand this industry.”

Broin and other ethanol officials are in Washington this week to discuss renewable fuels with lawmakers.

Ethanol groups have mostly praised both candidates for their positions on ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard — a 2007 law requiring increasing amounts of alternative fuels be blended into cars, trucks and other vehicles. Iowa produces more ethanol than any other state.

But Clinton and Trump have had their loyalty to ethanol questioned in recent weeks — Clinton after an aide met with a California official to discuss the RFS and the state’s low-carbon fuel standard, and Trump last week after his campaign published a fact sheet calling for the repeal of a key part of the federal ethanol mandate only to later say it had been published in error.

Broin said Poet-DSM Advanced Biofuels continues to make improvements at its cellulosic ethanol facility in Emmetsburg, Iowa. The plant should operate at full capacity at times this year and permanently next year, he said. The $275 million facility, which uses corncobs, leaves and husks to produce ethanol, opened two years ago.

Poet-DSM is using the 20 million-gallon facility to improve its technology and production processes before it goes about licensing to other producers or some of Poet’s own 27 corn ethanol facilities within two or three years.

“We have a few hurdles yet to come …but we’ve made tremendous strides and we would expect to be able to replicate this within a couple years,” Broin said. “There’s a billion tons of cellulosic that goes to waste every year that could produce 80 billion gallons of clean burning fuel.”

Poet, one of the nation’s largest ethanol producers, and Royal DSM of the Netherlands partnered on the project.

Contact Christopher Doering at cdoering@usatoday.com or reach him at Twitter: @cdoering