Congressional staff and other federal and state decisionmakers got an up-close virtual look at the U.S. ethanol industry last week as part of the Renewable Fuels Association’s Virtual Heartland Tour. The event included a series of educational videos on timely topics and Q&As with farmers, ethanol producers and one of the country’s top fuel retailers.
Since 2009, RFA has co-sponsored the Iowa RFA Science & Sustainability Tour, which brings Washington, DC policymakers to Iowa for a hands-on experience with today’s renewable fuels industry. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, this year’s tour was canceled.
“Each summer, we join IRFA in providing the opportunity for congressional, agency staff and others to get an inside look at the ethanol industry right in our nation’s Heartland,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “Unfortunately, this year we were not able to host the event in ethanol country, so we did the next best thing: We took the experience right to them, virtually. This gave congressional and agency staff the opportunity to hear from important ethanol industry stakeholders not just in the Midwest, but also in places like California and New York. We hope the event helped our audience understand the geographic diversity of our industry—and how we are all working together to bring clean, green, homegrown fuels to consumers everywhere.”
In addition to an industry overview by Cooper that kicked off the event, the two-hour virtual tour featured:
- Award-winning Missouri farmers Matt and Kate Lambert stressing how the supply chain for ethanol production starts on the farm, and the importance being placed on the health of the farm and protecting resources that improve soil health and water quality.
- Chris Wilson, General Manager of Mid-Missouri Energy, leading the audience on a walk through a modern-day ethanol plant to see how a kernel of grain is transformed into fuel ethanol.
- Tim Winters of Western New York Energy discussing innovation and resilience during COVID. WNYE was one of several plants across the country to seize the initiative and produce hand sanitizer for their local communities.
- Charlie Wilson and Tony Leiding of Trenton Agri Products explaining how renewable fuel producers are promoting environmental stewardship through the expansion of critical pollinator habitats. TAP is home to a pilot program as part of RFA’s partnership with Field to Market, Nebraska Corn Pheasants Forever, and others.
- Nathaniel Doddridge of Casey’s General Stores sharing how he sees retailers flocking to higher ethanol blends for the flexibility and choice they offer consumers.
- Neil Koehler, RFA chairman and the co-founder and co-CEO of Pacific Ethanol, showing what ethanol plants, like Pacific Ethanol’s facility in California, is doing to reduce its carbon footprint. Renewable fuels have a vital role to play in low-carbon initiatives.
Video highlights of the tour will be made available soon on RFA’s website and social media channels.