Picking up Steam in May

By Susanne Retka Schill | April 15, 2010
May is a glorious month as the memory of frosty mornings fades and summer picks up steam. FEW preparations are picking up steam as well with the goal of presenting another information-packed workshop complete with a full expo. EPM associate editor Holly Jessen's conference preview in this issue provides more information on the plans as they take final shape.

In this issue, we also take another look at the final rule for the renewable fuels standard. Associate editor Luke Geiver and Jessen dig into the details of how renewable identification numbers (RINs) will be handled going forward. It looks like the RINs market is likely to become vastly more complex as cellulosic, advanced and biomass-based biofuels join conventional biofuels in the standard.

There are those who think the RFS will be incentive enough for biofuels and thus the tax credits should not be extended. Our columnists this month tackle the tax incentive issue, along with other policy concerns, providing talking points that each of us needs to learn.

I know from experience that when the debate gets rolling, all this will become so complicated that one's eyes will glaze over and the mind will numb. Gaining a mastery of the arguments is a challenge. But what every ethanol plant employee, from top management on down, does have is a mastery of how his or her plant works and what its impact is on the community.

I urge you to invite your Congressmen (and/or their staffs) to visit your plant. Give them a tour, have them meet your directors and the farmers who supply your plant. Foster the personal experience that gives them concrete evidence of what ethanol means to rural America. Let them ask questions. You may not have all the answers, but give them the facts of your operation, and offer your opinions. Even if they are opponents of ethanol, ask them to come see for themselves and ask their questions directly. You might not change their minds on the first visit, but establishing a relationship is the first step in moderating their opposition.