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National and State Policymakers Champion Ethanol's Benefits at ACE Ethanol Conference

Sioux Falls, SD --National and state policymakers--including Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN), and U.S. Senator John Thune (R-SD) provided keynote addresses at the American Coalition for Ethanol’s 20th annual Ethanol Conference & Trade Show.

The ethanol conference, held August 7-9 in St. Paul, Minnesota’s River Centre, drew a record attendance of 1,800 people from all across the U.S. and from several other nations. The ACE Trade Show was also the largest on record with 280 exhibit spaces representing 230 different companies.

Brian Jennings, ACE Executive Vice President, was pleased with the success of the organization’s 20th annual event. “This year’s ethanol conference brought together not only industry founders, but also new faces who are coming to the table in support of ethanol,” Jennings said. “There is a tremendous energy in the ethanol movement right now, and that spirit was evident during the conference proceedings.”

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty highlighted the important role that Minnesota has played in the birth of the modern ethanol movement and the state’s desire to keep its ethanol policies on the leading edge.

“While other states now see the wisdom of our public policies in Minnesota, we want to continue to hold ourselves out as the benchmark…And I’m very excited about that,” Pawlenty said.

He also noted the nation’s dangerous addiction to foreign oil: “Knowing what we know about Chavez, knowing what we know about Putin, knowing what we know about the leaders in the Middle East, it is not good for our country, as a matter of national security, to have that much of our country’s future hooked to people who don’t like us or want to do us harm,” he said. Pawlenty, now chairs the National Governors Association and has selected a clean energy future as the year’s topic for the group.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Congressman Collin Peterson of Minnesota updated ethanol supporters on the work of crafting the House’s version of the Farm Bill. He emphasized the importance of having a Renewable Fuels Standard in the final energy bill. Though it was not in the House version of energy legislation because the issue got tangled up in some other politics, the higher RFS is in the Senate bill so it is a conference-able item.
In addition to research and development, he noted the importance of addressing the practical side of bringing cellulosic ethanol to commercialization: “Now we need to have real farmers grow this stuff, figure out how to plant it, how to get the stand established, how to harvest it, how to transport it, how to store it, how to get it into the plant, all of these things we don’t know right now. The farmers will figure this out. If you let them go, they’ll figure out how to make this work.”

Senator Thune pointed to Congress’ role in ethanol advancement. “We need to have effective public policy in place that keeps the ethanol industry growing in a sustainable and productive manner,” Thune said. “A higher RFS, greater access to renewable fuel pumps, more research and development of cellulosic ethanol, and perhaps most importantly, approval of intermediate ethanol blends are critical to the growth and sustainability of the ethanol industry.”
During Senate floor debate of the recent energy bill, Thune noted that two anti-ethanol amendments were soundly defeated. “These amendments are a good reminder that Congress cannot rest on our laurels following the 2005 Renewable Fuels Standard and must continue to work hard on behalf of the American farmer, ethanol producers, and consumers across the country who are tired of being held hostage by higher gas prices and foreign oil dependency,” Thune said.

Thune has urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to act quickly on Minnesota’s forthcoming application for the approval of E20. “Congress and the Administration need to work together with the ethanol and automotive industries to approve intermediate blends of ethanol-blended gasoline for non flex-fuel vehicles,” he said. “It’s widely accepted that we have to act to ensure that demand for ethanol keeps pace with industry expansion. If we fail to act, excess production capacity could have harmful effects on the overall ethanol industry.”

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