Tony Igl: Pro-ethanol policy helps Michigan agriculture
A Crystal Flash Energy truck is filled with ethanol at the Carbon Green Bioenergy plant located in Lake Odessa where ethanol is produced. The writer suggests pro-ethanol policy benefits Michigan’s economy.(Photo: Greg DeRuiter/Lansing State Journal )
I was pleased to see the Lansing State Journal's focus on the impact of agriculture on our region (Greater Lansing Outlook, Aug. 29). Agriculture is a major driver of Michigan's economy, and our farmers are proud that their efforts support jobs and opportunities across the state.
As the LSJ noted, sound public policy is one critical aspect of maintaining a strong agriculture industry and a thriving economy.
For Michigan's corn farmers and thousands of others whose livelihoods are connected to clean, renewable fuels, this has been a particularly important time in the public policy arena.
The Environmental Protection Agency has been considering the volume of biofuels called for under the Renewable Fuel Standard for several months. In recent days, the agency took a step toward a final decision on how strong America's pro-ethanol commitment will be in the years ahead. This proposal on the RFS has been forwarded to the White House for final review, drawing us closer to a policy decision that's absolutely critical here in Michigan.
Consider just a few of the many benefits Michiganders enjoy from clean, Michigan-grown biofuels like ethanol:
More than 22,000 Michigan jobs are tied in some way to renewable fuels production, and renewable fuels boost our economy by more than $4 billion annually, according to industry estimates. That includes 1,300 jobs in our 8th Congressional District here in the Lansing area.
For Michigan families, prices are lower at the pump thanks to ethanol. Studies have shown that ethanol brings down gas prices by more than $1 per gallon.
It's a cleaner-burning fuel that helps reduce air pollution from dirty oil. The National Lung Association of the Upper Midwest has named E-85 as a Clean Air Choice because it reduces dangerous pollution in our air.
And as an American-made biofuel, it helps reduce the flow of American dollars overseas – often to nations hostile to the United States – to pay for foreign oil.
The RFS is a common-sense policy that helps ensure a strong ethanol industry in the United States, making possible these many benefits of biofuel production for our communities and our families. Unfortunately, the policy has been under attack in recent months, namely from Big Oil companies and special interests who see ethanol as a threat to their massive profits.
As we reflect on the tremendous positive impact of Michigan agriculture on our economy and our way of life, it's important to remember that public policy plays a critical role in complementing our industry.
With the RFS decision nearing, it is critical that the EPA and President Obama make the decision to maintain a strong, pro-ethanol policy for our nation. The benefits are simply too great, and too many, to bow to pressure from oil companies and weaken this forward-looking policy.