ANNAWAN — Ethanol is good for agriculture, the environment and the country.
That message was the overriding theme of Patriot Renewable Fuels’ fifth anniversary open house held Thursday and Friday at the ethanol-production plant located just west of Annawan alongside Interstate 80.
Gene Griffith, president of Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC, told the hundreds attending the two-day open house the plant has produced 550 million gallons of ethanol in its first five years of operation.
“That’s 550 million gallons that don’t have to come from the Middle East,” he said. “Patriot has contributed more than $1.2 billion to the nation’s reduction in its dependence on foreign oil.”
Tom Buis, president of Growth Energy, a company representing the ethanol industry, said the nation has been addicted to foreign oil the last 40 years, reminding people of the long gas lines in the 1970s in the United States.
“We have spent trillions of dollars on foreign oil and have put our brave soldiers at risk due to foreign oil,” he said. “The production of ethanol is good for the rural economy in this area.”
The ethanol industry produces 10 percent of the nation’s fuels and the renewable fuels standard needs to be adopted, so cars can use E15 and higher blends, added Buis.
Farmers want to get their profits from the market, not from the government through crop subsidies, added Buis. The ethanol industry can change that through the use of corn.
“Big oil wants to eliminate any competition, especially our competitive (ethanol) industry that is cleaner and better for the economy,” added Buis.
The ethanol industry has created 400,000 jobs nationwide and saved consumers $40 billion at the gas pumps through cheaper fuel, he said.
Bob Flider, director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, told people attending Thursday’s open house the agriculture industry is working to getting E15 at the gas pumps, and Patriot Renewable Fuels is also helping the livestock industry by producing 300,000 tons a year of dry distilled grain and solubles used to feed poultry and livestock.
“The ethanol industry uses five billion bushels of corn in ethanol production each year,” he said. “We use corn more productively through facilities like Patriot.”
The price of oil has crippled the nation’s economy and the amount of the nation’s gas supply coming from foreign oil has been reduced from 55 percent to 45 percent because of the ethanol industry, added Flider.
Scott Shearer, who represents Patriot in Washington, D.C., asked those attending the open house to contact their congressmen in September to tell them to pass the 2013 Farm Bill the U.S. Senate has already passed and is awaiting passage by the U.S. House of Representatives.
“September is a critical time for the 2013 Farm Bill,” he said. “Ask them to pass the 2013 Farm Bill. It is critical to the future of Illinois and the country to pass the Farm Bill.”
Shearer is vice president of Bockory Group, a government affairs consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. He has more than 30 years of experience dealing with government and corporate affairs, with a specialty in agriculture trade issues, according to the firm’s website.
Bob Dineen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, was the main speaker on Friday. He talked about the status of the 2013 Farm Bill and the importance of renewable fuels standards.
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