With damaging cuts to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) looming, Congressman Tim Walz visited POET Biorefining in Lake Crystal on Monday morning to talk about ethanol’s impact on the area’s economy.
POET employs about 44 people in the Lake Crystal area, consumes 20 million bushels of corn and produces 56 million gallons of ethanol annually. Those numbers will shrink if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the oil industry gets its way and slashes the amount of ethanol blended in gasoline by 1.4 billion gallons in 2014. The negative economic effects of a cut to the RFS would be felt at POET and throughout the entire Lake Crystal region.
“Southern Minnesota survived one of the worst recessions in our nation’s history because of a strong agriculture sector and ethanol was a part of that,” Walz said to a group of 25 farmers and renewable fuels supporters. “Now you’re going to demonize one of the things that pulled us through all of that? It doesn’t make any sense.”
No, it doesn’t make any sense, but it’s happening. And unless farmers and consumers speak out, the proposal will become reality. EPA is accepting public comments on its proposal through Jan. 28, 2014. To make your voice heard and tell EPA to not mess with the RFS, click here.
Walz agreed with Minnesota corn farmers and all renewable fuels supporters: The RFS is working as it was intended. Leave it alone.
“Now in the middle of the game, you’re going to move the goal posts? That’s wrong, that’s unfair,” Walz said. “When it comes to corn farming and ethanol, we’ve made progress in efficiencies. We’ve made progress in new technology. We’ve achieved the goals set for us in the RFS. We’re in the first few minutes of a 24-hour clock and this decision makes it difficult to continue innovating.”
Farmers in attendance provided examples of ethanol rejuvenating their rural communities. They also refuted the misguided food vs. fuel talking point used by ethanol detractors and, in addition to submitting comments to EPA, asked what they can do to help re-build ethanol’s reputation.
“Your foes are well-financed and very coordinated,” Walz said. “While you’re back here growing crops, producing ethanol and creating jobs, they’re lining up outside of our doors in Washington D.C. There’s a gap there. We didn’t talk enough about what we were doing. Go to your neighbors. Go to the coffee shop. Tell people the facts and all the good things ethanol is doing for your community.”
In a news release distributed at the event, Walz left no doubt about where he stands on the proposed cuts: “The RFS is working, and the EPA needs to get out of the way.”
Minnesota’s corn farmers couldn’t agree more.