ACE: Nebraska Governor supports industry

By Erin Voegele | August 04, 2008
Web exclusive posted August 14, 2008 at 3:31 p.m. CST

The American Coalition for Ethanol's 21st Conference and Trade Show, "Fueling Revolution," demonstrated the upbeat attitude the industry is projecting, even as bad press and misinformation continue to challenge it. The conference, which was held Aug. 12-14 at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb., was attended by approximately 1,000 people.

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman kicked off the event's general session, showing his support for the industry. "The number one issue is energy," Heineman said. "It is on the mind of every Nebraskan. It's on the minds of every American."

Heineman said that in his opinion, the ethanol industry is likely the greatest economic development tool that's been available to rural America in the last 25 years. He spoke about importance of energy security, underscored the industry's ability to create jobs in local communities, shared how Nebraska has benefited from ethanol production, and addressed traditional corn-based ethanol production.

"Corn based ethanol is going to be around for a long time," Heineman said. "I don't have any doubt about it. It's going to be there. It's the foundation in terms of what we are doing with ethanol and with each plant we are getting more efficient every single day."

Heineman stressed the importance of America's agriculture industry remaining united in support of a strong ethanol industry and a strong livestock industry. "Ethanol is, and must remain, a part of American's plan to reduce its dependence on foreign oil," he said. "America must become energy independent and an expanded ethanol industry in one step in that process."

Attendees to the ACE conference were updated on current industry events. Bob Scott, president of ACE, spoke about the current state of the industry, encouraging them to address misinformation presented by the press by spreading the truth. He also spoke about the faith, courage and spirit needed to revolutionize America's dependence on foreign oil. "Ethanol is the fuel of revolution, and we are the fuel for the revolution," Scott said.

ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings addressed the event's theme, "Fueling Revolution," noting that some thought it was worded too strongly. However, Jennings said, "It is indeed a revolution my friends." He spoke about Big Oil's attack on ethanol and negative headlines that have impacted the industry, attributing the uptick in attacks to the fact that the ethanol industry is winning. "We have fueled a revolution to make gasoline the alternative fuel," he said.

Ron Lamberty, ACE's vice president of market development, spoke about mid-range blends, E85 and flex-fuel vehicles. According to Lamberty, mid-range blends need to be stressed in order to increase consumption of ethanol and break the blend wall. Referring to the need to gain approval for the use of mid-range ethanol blends in standard vehicles, he said, "we need to power our vehicles on more ethanol, not less, and do it sooner, not later."

Breakout sessions covered a wide range of topics, including distillers grains issues, mid-range blends, mergers and financial considerations, profit protection and trail transportation safety. Speakers spoke about the food versus fuel debate and the misinformation being presented to consumers, the difficult lending environment, and the renewable fuels standard.