Poet employees urge candidates to support ethanol

By Susanne Retka Schill | October 06, 2008
Web exclusive posted Oct. 27, 2008 at 11:07 a.m. CST

More than 1,700 Poet LLC employees and farmer-investors sent an open letter to U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., urging the presidential candidates to invest in domestic sources of renewable fuels.

In the letter, they emphasized the positive impact that ethanol has already made in creating jobs, reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil, and helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, they noted that innovations like cellulosic ethanol are just around the corner that will make ethanol even cleaner and greener.

"Based on the enormous response to this letter from Poet employees and local farmers, it is clear that many Americans will be voting based on their economic and energy interests this year," said Jeff Broin, chief executive officer of Poet. "Ethanol is America's best renewable fuel, reliable and affordable now and we hope that the next president continues to invest in this homegrown and high-tech energy solution."

The 1,700 signatories included more than 800 people from ethanol producing states that are still considered "toss ups" in this presidential campaign or are hotly contested. Those states include Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Ohio. Poet has 25 ethanol production facilities in seven states - South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan.

"Both presidential candidates have talked at length about energy independence and we have employees who support both candidates," said Rob Skjonsberg, Poet's vice president of government affairs. "However, we have heard from many in the Poet family that there is hesitancy in getting behind a candidate who talks about energy independence but does not support American ethanol. Ethanol is clean, green and available today. Without it - talk of energy independence is just that - talk."

According to the letter, the ethanol industry has created more than 200,000 new jobs across the country. As well, in 2007, ethanol production contributed $47.6 billion to the nation's economy and generated $4.6 billion in federal tax revenues. Furthermore, in 2007, the production and use of biofuels helped the United States avoid an estimated 13 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Below is the letter that was sent to the presidential candidates by Poet employees and farmer investors.


October 22, 2008

Dear Senators McCain and Obama:

As Election Day draws near, we the employees and farmer investors of POET want to take this opportunity to share with you the importance of ethanol not only to our families and communities, but to the entire country.

Ethanol is America's best renewable fuel, available and affordable now. Through years of innovation, ethanol has become a high-tech, home-grown solution to America's energy crisis. Today, that American ingenuity continues and ethanol is now on the verge of breakthroughs that will make it even cleaner and greener tomorrow and for the long-term. As science moves from making ethanol from corn to corn cobs and other natural resources, ethanol will continue to be a sustainable and effective energy solution for the world.

The public-private investment in ethanol has created a vibrant renewable energy economy right in our backyard. Right now, we send hundreds of billions of dollars overseas to import huge amounts of oil from volatile and unpredictable regions like the Middle East. By investing in ethanol, we keep that money at home, creating jobs and making America more energy independent. Clean, affordable domestically-produced ethanol enhances America's economic prosperity and competitiveness through lower gas prices, job growth, and increased tax revenues. The ethanol industry created more than 200,000 new jobs across the country that cannot be exported or outsourced. In addition, in 2007 alone, ethanol production contributed $47.6 billion to the nation's GDP and generated $4.6 billion in federal tax revenues.

Beyond our contributions to the American economy, we are proud of our environmental stewardship and role in addressing the serious challenge of global climate change. In 2007, we avoided an estimated 13 million tons of greenhouse gases through biofuels production and use. In the next few years, the commercialization of cellulosic ethanol made from crop waste and dedicated energy crops promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 86 percent relative to gasoline. POET is poised to be one of the first to produce cellulosic ethanol on a commercial scale at an existing facility in Emmetsburg, Iowa as early as 2011.

We strongly encourage you to support energy policies to ensure that the federal government continues its investment in domestic sources of renewable fuels like ethanol. We've already seen the tremendous positive impact that ethanol production has on our nation and jeopardizing this progress could be catastrophic to our economy and energy security. Just imagine what would happen if the domestic production of nearly 11 billion gallons of ethanol halted to just a trickle of that amount. In such a dire scenario, Americans would be forced to import at least 206 million barrels of oil and send $11.6 billion overseas to pay for it. Can Americans really afford the related jump in gas prices due to that surge in demand? Can we as a nation gamble with our security in such a way when we have an alternative at home?

As you campaign for the votes of Americans across the country, we hope you will consider the important contributions of ethanol to helping our nation to bring about a new, more affordable, cleaner, and secure energy future.


The Employees and Farmer Investors of POET