Ethanol backers urged to protest proposed cuts
Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Dave Frederickson was in Benson Monday urging area residents to contact the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to voice opposition to lower the country’s Renewable Fuels Standard.
EPA is proposing to reduce the volume of ethanol required in the nation’s gas supply in 2014 from a promised 14.4 billion gallons to close to 13 billion gallons.
If the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) mandate is rolled back, it will mean a reduction of 110 million gallons of production in Minnesota, Frederickson told the crowd gathered at the Benson Golf Club. That is the equivalent of shutting down two Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (CVEC) plants, he added.
Benson-based CVEC grinds 17 million bushels of corn annually to produce 49.5 million gallons of ethanol. It produces 125,500 tons of distillers dried grain as a byproduct that is sold to farmers for livestock feed throughout the country. The company directly employs 50 people, but provides indirect jobs to dozens more to serve the plants needs. There are hundreds of area people invested in the company who earn dividends off their stock.
The EPA’s proposed 2014 reduction in RFS required volumes would result in an estimated $610 million dollars in losses and more than 1,500 jobs cut from the Minnesota economy and its workforce,” Frederickson told the crowd.
“The potential impact in Minnesota is serious, it is a big deal and we need to weigh in on it,” he said.
When the ethanol industry started it had four main goals, Frederickson said. “It was about cleaner air, it was about creating jobs, it was about reducing our reliance on foreign oil and it was about adding value to our crops,” he said. It has done all those things, he added.
When then weathered the deep recession that followed the 2007-08 collapse of the nation’s financial and housing markets, it was the strength of the farm economy that eased the impact in Minnesota, Frederickson said.
Photo: Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Dave Frederickson, a graduate of Murdock High School, talks with ethanol supporters at the Benson Golf Club Monday afternoon urging them to contact the federal EPA about their opposition to rolling back the country’s ethanol mandate.