Poet GMs testify at EPA hearing on proposed 2014 RFS volumes

By Susanne Retka Schill | December 05, 2013

Three general managers of Poet Biorefining facilities along with Poet-DSM Advanced Biofuel’s business development manager testified Dec. 5 at the U.S. EPA hearings on the proposed 2014 volumes for the renewable fuel standard. Mark Borer, Poet Biorefing-Leipsic (Ohio). Gary Eischeid, Poet Biorefining-Gowrie (Iowa) and Steve Pittman, Poet Biorefining-North Manchester (Ind.) testified on behalf of the ethanol producers associations in their respective states, saying every American and citizen of their states will feel more pain at the pump. 

 “The intent of the renewable fuel standard is to give consumers more choice at the gas pump and to put renewable fuels on a level-playing field with the oil industry,” Borer said. “Any movement away from this intent is not what consumers are looking for and it will prevent the next round of advanced biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol, from coming to states like Ohio.”

During his testimony, Borer said: “This change of direction will have a direct and immediate impact on the industry and will put at risk approximately $1 billion in capital investment made in Ohio since 2007 to meet established and legislated RFS obligations. Ultimately, the EPA’s renewable fuels commitment reversal risks all of Ohio’s 300-plus direct employees and more than 1500 indirect jobs.” The ethanol industry in Ohio supports 13,000 direct and indirect jobs and has invested $2.6 billion into state ethanol infrastructure since 2008. Ethanol operations in Ohio produce an estimated $433 million in economic output annually.

“Any proposal to reel back this progress would stifle current multi-billion dollar investments in next generation biofuels, including many investments right here in the state of Iowa.” Eischeid said. “Iowa knows what biofuels and clean energy is already doing for our nation, and we have supported those who have recognized its promise,” Eischeid said. ”But we cannot stand by and support this proposed rule or anyone who seeks to finalize it. Every American will feel the pain at the pump. Ethanol today displaces 10 percent of petroleum and independent analysis suggests this saves consumers anywhere from $.50 to $1.50 at the pump.” The ethanol industry in Iowa has added $12.9 billion of income to the pockets of Iowans over the past decade and has generated $1.8 billion of tax revenue for Iowa over this same time period. Iowa currently has 42 ethanol plants that produce 3.7 billion gallons of ethanol annually.

Traveling from Indiana, Pittman said, “Taking momentum away from the renewable fuel industry while empowering oil companies is not the solution consumers are looking for. Moving backwards from the 2013 numbers only hinders advanced biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol, and will prevent such technologies from coming to states like Indiana.” The ethanol industry in Indiana has created 3,575 full-time jobs and has generated $3.4 billion of annual economic activity. The industry increases household and farmer income by $257 million per year and contributes $520 million to the state’s Gross State Product annually.

During his testimony, Pittman said: “Will my grandsons have to leave this great country and go to protect our oil interests in the Middle East – putting their lives on the line – when we have the answer to energy independence right under our noses but just did not have the courage to do the right thing? The next time you pick up a grandchild, listen to them. They deserve better from us. And I plan to fight to see that they get that chance to be heard.”

Speaking for Poet-DSM Advanced Biofuels, which has a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant under construction in Emmetsburg, Iowa, Kevin Potas, business development manager, highlighted the importance of building cellulosic biofuels capacity through the established network of U.S. ethanol producers. “The low-hanging fruit of cellulosic biofuel production is the existing network of corn ethanol producers and their access to plentiful crop residue. When you weaken that industry, you weaken the opportunity for cellulosic ethanol expansion.”

He also addressed the importance of stable government policy: “When the renewable fuel standard was created, the government made a contract with the private sector. Congress said, ‘If you can produce domestic, renewable fuel, we will ensure there is a market for this important product.’ … If the government cannot be counted on to fulfill its side of the bargain, how can anyone expect the private sector to invest in these sorts of endeavors?”

Poet is making the full written testimonies of its general managers available at its website: www.poet.com/testimony. Pota’s full comments are available at www.poetdsm.com/testimony .