Veterans for Renewable Fuels



"After serving our country in uniform, we have chosen to work in the renewable fuels industry because it allows us to continue honoring a commitment to make America stronger and more independent. We take great pride in knowing we work in an industry that improves our nation’s energy security, economic vitality, and environmental quality each and every day."


- Marine veteran and RFA Vice Chairman Jeff Oestmann

“While the ethanol industry’s unusual penchant for hiring veterans might come as a surprise to many, it doesn’t surprise me at all. I completely understand why so many former servicemen and women are drawn to employment in the biofuels industry. It’s a natural fit for us. ... Together with the American oil and gas industry, we have made great strides in reducing petroleum imports and boosting domestic energy supplies."


- Army veteran and RFA Board Member Tony Leiding



Veterans for Renewable Fuels is a special project of the Renewable Fuels Association to recognize the tremendous contribution of military veterans in the U.S. ethanol industry and provide these American heroes opportunities to come together and support each other in their careers and personal lives.


According to a June 2023 Department of Energy report, the percentage of ethanol industry workers who are vets is triple that of the national workforce and higher than the petroleum fuels and general energy workforce.


“When women and men in uniform leave the military and start searching for jobs, they want more than a paycheck," said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper, an Army veteran. "They’re looking for rewarding work and they want to join a tight-knit team that is focused on a common mission. They want their work to have meaning, and they want to continue using the leadership skills they were taught in the military. Thousands of veterans have found exactly what they’re looking for in the ethanol industry, and we are truly honored to have them in our midst.”

Letter to President Biden

In conjunction with the launch of VRF, the group’s co-chairs sent a letter to President Joe Biden, thanking him for his commitment to domestic bioenergy, highlighting the role of veterans in the industry, and calling on the administration to “fully embrace the national security benefits of homegrown renewable fuels like ethanol.” VRF is co-chaired by RFA board members Jeff Oestmann, a former U.S. Marine, and Tony Leiding, a U.S. Army veteran.

Podcast Spotlight

Geoff Cooper was featured in a February 2024 episode of the Veteran on the Move podcast, which works to empower veterans and their families through entrepreneurship by connecting them to the people, programs, and resources that will facilitate their successful transition into entrepreneurship. He talked about the important role vets play in the ethanol industry and why it is a good fit for them.


A November 2023 RFA Ethanol Report podcast includes interviews with many of the vets involved in the program—board members Jeff Oestmann and Tony Leiding, and RFA’s three veteran staff members, Cooper, Robert White, and Justin Schultz.


National Ethanol Conference Events

Before the NEC kicked off in San Diego, RFA's Veterans for Renewable Fuels partnered with Pearson Fuels for a terrific pump promotion, offering free E85 to military and vets and a deep discount for all others. The event led to many conversations about lower-cost, lower-carbon ethanol! Two days later, we closed off a great conference and made some waves with a SEAL boat tour of the bay. These events were sponsored by Lallemand Biofuels and Distilled Spirits, Commonwealth Agri-Energy and IFF.  Click here or on the photo banner to see more images.


Fuel Ethanol Workshop Event

The VRF will again host an outing for VRF members at the end of the 2024 Fuel Ethanol Workshop (FEW). This will take place at the Minnesota Twins game on Wednesday. Those interested will meet at the RFA Booth 1201 at 11am, but you must RSVP to Justin Schultz at [email protected] in order to receive a ticket. This event is sponsored by CTE Global, Chase Nedrow Industries and Pinion.

Join the Effort


The VRF is a special project of the Renewable Fuels Association. We welcome active military members, veterans, and their immediate family members. Click here to sign up! 


Veterans in Ethanol News


2024 News Release: RFA Provides Free E85 in San Diego for Military Community
2023 News Release: DOE: Ethanol Industry Leads the Charge in Hiring Military Veterans

2022 Media Interview: Veterans Find Home in Ethanol Industry

2022 News Release: DOE Report: Ethanol Industry Leads Energy Sector in Employing Veterans

2020 News Release: New Report Shows Ethanol Industry Fueled by Veterans

2017 Guest Column in Morning Consult: American-Made Ethanol Should be Part of Trump’s Energy Policy

2017 Guest Column in The Hill: Make America Stronger and More Independent, Support the Renewable Fuel Standard

2017 News Release: Veterans Encourage President to Include Ethanol, RFS in Energy Plan


Ethanol and Energy Security


The Arab Oil Embargo and Ethanol: 50 Years Later, October 2023

OPEC+ Production Cut Expected to Drive Up Gasoline Prices, but Higher Ethanol Blends Can Help, April 2023

New University Study: Ethanol Cuts Gas Prices by 77 Cents per Gallon, February 2023

White House Fact Sheet: Using Homegrown Biofuels to Address Putin’s Price Hike at the Pump and Lower Costs for American Families, April 2022

Biofuel & Ag Leaders Call on White House to Provide Relief at the Pump Through Higher Blends of Ethanol, March 2022

Anniversary Report Details Success of the Renewable Fuel Standard, August 2022

As Iran Crisis Drives Oil Prices Higher, Ethanol Delivers Relief at the Pump, January 2020

In Wake of Saudi Attacks, Ethanol Can Help Provide Real Energy Security, September 2019


The accessibility of renewable fuels limits the bargaining power of the largest oil producers and brings about a higher degree of fuel security to the U.S. We estimate that blending roughly 330 million barrels of ethanol into U.S. gasoline lowers global crude oil prices as well as retail gasoline prices. The main conclusion is that the RFS program has lowered the prices of gasoline at the pump at a statistically significant level.”


- From the February 2023 report, Impact of ethanol on gasoline prices in the U.S.: New evidence