Home » Area ag leaders back Biden's E15 sales plan – NUjournal

Area ag leaders back Biden's E15 sales plan – NUjournal

by Arifa Rana

Apr 16, 2022
Highwater Ethanol LLC photo The Highwater Ethanol plant, located just west of Lamberton on U.S. Highway 14, is operating at an ethanol production level of about 69 million gallons this year, an 11.8% increase over fiscal year 2021. The increase came without additional capital expenses, Highwater CEO Brian Kletscher said.
WASHINGTON — Area agriculture leaders are voicing support of President Joe Biden’s announcement Monday to increase the amount of ethanol to gasoline this summer to reduce gas prices. Most gasoline sold in the U.S. is a 10% ethanol blend. Allowing 15% ethanol blend from June 1 to Sept. 15 was usually prohibited to reduce smog in high temperatures.
The Biden administraiton says the move will save drivers an average of 10 cents a gallon at 2,300 gas stations.
Highwater Ethanol LLC CEO Brian Kletscher said the move to use E15 year-around in the future will continue to be worked on by the ethanol and agriculture industries.
“The ethanol industry and ag community is happy to be part of the solution to lower pump prices while improving air quality by blending and using E15,” said Kletscher. “By continuing higher blend usage like E15, we can strive to keep the rural economy strong using a product produced in the United States.”
Kletscher said producing ethanol from corn is one part of the ethanol production process that also produces high quality dried distillers grain for use in livestock, poultry and corn oil production.
In addition, Kletscher said in 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved E15 for use in light-duty conventional vehicles of model year 2001 and later, through a Clean Air Act waiver request, based on significant testing and research funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Wayne Schoper, a farm business management instructor for South Central College in North Mankato, said the ethanol rule waiver will be a positive for U.S. corn producers.
“Anything we can do to spur the farm economy is good for all of us. It puts more pressure on world grain stocks, which are pretty good worldwide,” Schoper said. “It stimulates prices too. We’re near record-high corn and bean prices. These are wild cards. Usually prices start to temper down going into June, but I don’t know this year. There is a lot of uncertainty.”
Schoper said there was a big price run-up in 2012, and prices have not come down to previous levels.
Rural Sleepy Eye farmer Tom Hirsch said he disagrees with the thinking that ethanol hinders gasoline engine life.
“I burn it in my vehicles, and it doesn’t seem to bother them,” said Hirsch.
He said he’s more concerned about the possibility of big oil companies buying ethanol plants and making big profits and foreign entities buying farm land.
“Absentee ownership always scares me,” Hirsch said.
He called distiller’s grain, used for livestock, poultry and corn oil production, “a wonderful product.”
The closest ethanol plant to Brown County is Winthrop Heartland Corn Products. CEO Gary Anderson was not available for comment. The farmer-owned cooperative produces more than 140 million gallons of ethanol, 6 million gallons of distillers corn oil and 290,000 tons of dried distillers grain and per year, according to the co-op’s website.
In an email, Amber Portner, communications manager at Christensen Farms commented on the E15 waiver: “Agriculture is an ecosystem, and we recognize that while this may impact livestock producers, it will increase demand from local row crop farmers.
“As a commodity-based business, we understand grain markets, similar to hog markets, will always eb and flow, especially in the event of policy changes. Regardless of these fluctuations, we are committed and remain focused on being adaptive and responsible pork producers.” 
 (Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).
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