Federal RFS under attack
By JOLENE STEVENS
MERRILL – A local ethanol industry representative said he and others will continue to fight against “Big Oil’s” attempts to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard program.
The program, created in 2005 through the Environmental Proitection Agency’s Energy Policy Act and expanded in 2007, calls for the blending of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel into transportation fuel by 2022, up from the level of 9 billion gallons in 2008.
The program established through collaborative new fuel categories with volume blending requirements for each. Also included in the guidelines are with threshold standards of specified life-cycle greenhouse gas performance.
Eamonn Bryne, chief executive officer of Plymouth Energy LLC, in Merrill, is on the battle line for retaining the RFS, which he said is necessary for the ethanol industry and its continued drive for a safe and more efficient fuel for today’s transportation fuel consumers.
“Repealing the standards would be detrimental to the industry,” Bryne said. “There’s no longer any subsidy given to the renewable fuel industry. The one thing we have is the RFS, and it’s in place and working.
“We are at present seeing our profit margins returning as we are just now only coming off one of our worst profit years,” he said. “And while our new corn crops are looking good, we have to remember we are dealing with a very, very volatile corn market that makes it difficult for businesses with this huge volatility of their main resource.”
Freshly returned from one of several trips to Washington, D.C., where he met with U.S. lawmakers on the RFS issue, Bryne said, “We have to try to get the facts back in front of people. The ethanol industry is, at the end of the day, out to create 400,000 jobs in what is now a $40 billion industry.
“We currently supply 10 per of the nation’s fuel,” Bryne said. “Ethanol is good for the environment. It’s good for families because it puts money in their pocket books. I think rational, level-headed people understand this.”
He said the industry is encouraged over the increased use of the blended renewal fuels including E15. One such example is that NASCAR has logged racing 4 million miles on E15.
Big Oil interests, Bryne said, understandably want to repeal RFS because they see renewable fuels cutting into their markets when renewables are, in fact, reducing the cost of gas at the pump for the motoring public.
Bryne said Plymouth Energy’s 300-member farmer investors and share holders are pleased with the facility’s current operations.
Plant output the past year totaled 50 million gallons of ethanol and an additional 160,000 tons of by-products.
On the horizon in the near future, he added, is the November start of the company’s trial project with Syngenta’s enogen technology corn grown within the area for 10 percent of its needed raw corn resources.
The specifically bio-engineered corn has an added alpha amylase enzyme for enhancement of productivity and efficiency of dry grind ethanol production, Byrne said.
Success of the trials, he added, can mean more efficient co-product production at the local plant.
“We currently sell every ton of our co-products to livestock or poultry producers within a 50-mile area basically in Sioux and Plymouth counties,” Bryne said, “without the need to export the product at the current time.
“It’s a situation should we say of riding the tide with all boats,” he said. He said 17 percent of the corn supply goes into ethanol production – net percentage after DDG and proteins returned for use in livestock production – and only the starch, the fiber, the fat germ and protein go back out to the farm to producers as a feed source for cattle, hogs or poultry.
“The ability of producers to supplement their feeding programs with these products,” Bryne said, “is an added benefit to our overall agricultural picture in which we see our industry not just as a poor relation, but a real profit generator for these producers.”
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