Iowa Study: Biofuels Help Build Strong Rural Economy

Iowa Study: Biofuels Help Build Strong Rural Economy

Ethanol and biodiesel also help provide a more secure energy future, USDA official tells Iowa producers.

Renewable fuels help build a stronger rural economy and a more secure energy future for the United States. That was the main message U.S. Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development, Dallas Tonsager, delivered to the 7th annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit in Des Moines on January 30. Tonsager underscored the important role renewable fuels play in President Obama's "all-of-the-above" energy strategy, which is designed to reduce America's reliance on foreign oil.

Also at the conference, the IRFA released a new study showing the importance of biofuels to the state's economy.

ENERGY SECURITY: Renewable fuels help build a stronger rural economy and a more secure energy future, said USDA Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager, in his address last week to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association's annual summit in Des Moines. Tonsager underscored the important role ethanol and biodiesel play in the Obama Administration's "all of the above" energy strategy.

Tonsager said the U.S. cut net oil imports by 10%, or one million barrels a day, in 2012. "As domestic oil production expands we will also need to blend it with our domestically produced biofuels, whether cellulosic ethanol or drop in, biodiesel or aviation, and the sooner the better," Tonsager added.

Renewable fuels play important role in Obama administration's energy strategy

The Renewable Fuel Standard, with a goal to use at least 36 billion gallons of biobased transportation fuels by 2022 in the U.S., lays the foundation for reducing imported petroleum, and encouraging the development and expansion of our nation's renewable fuels sector.

"Midwestern renewable fuels are helping to pave the way toward our goal of solidifying and enhancing a renewable energy future," Tonsager said. "I look forward to a continued partnership to build a stronger rural economy, and a cleaner, more secure energy future."

Iowa has huge stake in the fight over the future of biofuels

Farmers and others in Iowa will face a fierce battle in coming months as the petroleum industry and other "anti-ethanol" groups gear up to alter the federal Renewable Fuels Standard and limit America's use of biofuels. That's the main message leaders of Iowa's renewable fuels industry delivered to the annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Association summit in Des Moines January 30.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

Iowa has a huge stake in the fight over the future of biofuels. The state leads the nation in ethanol and biodiesel production and biofuels plants annually pump billions of dollars into the pockets of Iowa families and create jobs, especially in rural areas, according to the newly released study by the IRFA.

For farmers the industry has become a major buyer of corn, purchasing 57% of Iowa's 2.36 billion bushel 2011 corn crop, the study says. Biofuel distillers are also providing competitively-priced co-products used by livestock feeders.

Renewable fuels industry is ready to punch back at critics

The oil industry's main lobbying group, The American Petroleum Institute, recently stated that repealing the RFS was its top legislative priority. The RFS also continues to face criticism from some food manufacturers and livestock groups who claim it drives up corn prices.

"The battle over biofuels will be difficult but the industry cannot back down," says Monte Shaw, executive director of IRFA. "I can assure you the Iowa renewable fuels industry is ready for a fight ahead," he says. "We know that Big Oil has the money, but we have the facts and we are ready to fight for more choices at the pump—cheaper, cleaner homegrown choices."

"There is no shortage of jealousy, nonsense and flat-out lying about renewable fuels," says Shaw.

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