Dear President Obama:
Your scheduled tour of rural communities through the Upper Midwest this week will no doubt provide you with firsthand knowledge of the challenges and opportunities present in rural communities all across the nation. Your scheduled travel will also bring you in close proximity to many of the most successful drivers of economic opportunity today: ethanol biorefineries.
Today, more than 200 ethanol biorefineries in all corners of the nation are providing more than 13 billion gallons of renewable fuel to displace our reliance on imported oil. These companies are helping to employ more than 400,000 Americans, with the majority of these Americans living in and around thousands of rural communities. Ethanol production is offering jobs that provide a good wage, good benefits, and the opportunity for rural Americans to stay in rural America or move back home.
Domestic ethanol production is also helping to reduce America’s addiction to imported oil. The estimated 13.5 billion gallons of ethanol production anticipated for 2011 will reduce our demand for foreign oil by more than 450 million barrels. It will also greatly reduce the amount of money America sends overseas to support our oil habit, often to nation’s hostile to U.S. interests. In 2010 alone, ethanol helped reduce our tab for imported oil by $34 billion dollars.
American ethanol production is also an important environmental tool to help mitigate the environmental damage done by our reliance on oil and other fossil fuels. As the most efficient source of ethanol available today, domestic ethanol is reducing greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles by up to 59 percent. At ethanol plants themselves, increasing efficiencies are providing more ethanol per bushel while technologies continue to reduce water and energy requirements. Mirroring these gains, farmers are producing twice as much corn as they were a generation ago on the virtually the same acres while using fewer inputs like fertilizer and irrigation water.
These facilities are not only about renewable fuel production. Each of the ethanol biorefineries you will pass by is producing a high value livestock feed, known colloquially as distillers grains. This livestock feed is increasingly replacing corn, soy, and other grains in cattle, dairy cattle, swine, and poultry population feed both in the U.S. and across the globe.
Mr. President, contrary to the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and the rhetoric of some of those on Capitol Hill and the campaign trail, ethanol and the policies that have helped support it are providing benefits to Americans all across the country. American ethanol production is the most successful, efficient, and cost-effective renewable fuel source the world has ever known. And, this industry is just getting started.
With the continued support of your Administration, America can expand its production and reliance on ethanol and other renewable fuels from a variety of feedstocks, including grasses, wood wastes, agricultural residues, and even municipal solid wastes from the city dump. All that is needed is the political will to stand up to the entrenched special interests who want to maintain oil’s monopoly over America’s fuel market.
On behalf of the nation’s ethanol industry, I thank you for your commitment to this important domestic industry. Additionally, I encourage you to embrace your record of support for ethanol and other domestic renewable fuels. We simply would not be talking about many of the exciting renewable fuel technology breakthroughs that are on the horizon were it not for the success and market build out resulting from the existing ethanol industry.