A group of Indiana state leaders and Hoosier farmers traveled to Iowa yesterday to testify in favor of biofuels. Iowa Governor Terry Branstadt called it the “Heartland Hearing.” Representatives from across the Midwest came to testify in support of renewable fuels and against the EPA proposal to reduce ethanol and biodiesel use in 2014. Leading the Hoosier delegation was Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann who told HAT that Indiana produced a billion bushels of corn last year, that now farmers need a market for that corn, and that a reduction in the RFS will limit the market for that grain.
“Since 2007, the RFS and biofuels have been critically important to the success of Hoosier farmers and have been an economic lifeline to rural communities who need this investment and the jobs more than ever,” Ellspermann said. “Indiana is producing more corn and soy than ever in the State’s history – and we will continue to be among the nation’s leaders in production. It is our hope that the EPA will implement a sound RFS that puts our nation’s grain to good work.” In a one-on-one interview with HAT in Iowa, Ellspermann said the biofuels industry is part of the fabric of Indiana, “We have 13 ethanol plants and the largest biodiesel plant in the US in Indiana. These facilities provide jobs for our rural communities and a market for our farmers.”
Also part of the Hoosier delegation was State Department of Agriculture Director Ted McKinney who told HAT, if the EPA proposal is adopted, Indiana communities will be affected. “The recent proposal from the EPA lowering the minimum requirements for the RFS will undermine our nation’s efforts to develop energy independence and strengthen our economy,” McKinney said. “Along with Lt. Gov. Ellspermann, I am urging the USDA and EPA to exercise their authority and halt the enactment of the RFS proposal until it can be more thoroughly analyzed. The production of biofuels throughout the United States is a crucial issue, not only to those in agriculture, but to all concerned with building a renewable energy portfolio and a stronger economy.” McKinney said he expects the biofuels industry to continue to grow and innovate and that this will bring further growth and development to rural areas of Indiana.
Thanks to Joanna Sshroeder of Zimm Comm for help with coverage of this story
A number of Indiana farm leaders also made the trip to Iowa to testify. “Corn and soybean farmers from across Indiana and the country take pride in the role we have played in the development of the U.S. biofuels industry, an industry that has helped diversify our fuel supply, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and created jobs and economic growth,” said David Lowe, president of Indiana Soybean Alliance. Mike Shuter, a director of Indiana Corn Growers Association, also participated in a panel discussion at the hearing.
“Hoosier farmers grew a more corn last year than we ever have before, and corn prices have fallen to at or just below the cost of production,” said Shuter, a farmer from Madison County. “Now the EPA has proposed lowering the ethanol numbers in the Renewable Fuel Standard, and that would push demand down even further. That’s not good for family farmers and rural Indiana, especially communities with ethanol and soy biodiesel plants.”
Others representing Indiana at the hearing included Bruce Hosier, Executive Director of the Randolph Economic Development Corporation and former mayor of Portland, IN.; Tim Phelps, Indiana Ethanol Producers Association; Kyle Cline, national policy advisor for Indiana Farm Bureau; and David Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations for Louis Dreyfus Commodities, LLC.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence has sent a letter to the EPA expressing his opposition to a reduction in the RFS. “I believe that our nation is best served by an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy that incorporates all forms of energy,” Indiana Gov. Mike Pence wrote. He added, “We need our wind, solar, nuclear, natural gas and coal resources to power our economy and provide the quality of life Hoosiers and other Americans are accustomed to experiencing. Indiana is one of the top manufacturing states in the country. Our competitive edge is in jeopardy as emissions standards, like those proposed by the EPA, drive up the cost of producing electricity.”