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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- National and state policymakers championed ethanol’s benefits for America's agriculture, economy, environment and energy security at the American Coalition for Ethanol's (ACE) 20th annual Ethanol Conference & Trade Show.
ACE said the event, held Aug. 7-9 in St. Paul, Minn., drew a record attendance of 1,800 people from across the U.S. and several other nations. The trade show also was the largest on record, with 280 exhibit spaces representing 230 companies.
"This year's ethanol conference brought together not only industry founders, but also new faces who are coming to the table in support of ethanol," Brian Jennings, ACE executive vice president, said in a news release. "There is a tremendous energy in the ethanol movement right now, and that spirit was evident during the conference."
During one of the event's keynote addresses, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty spoke of the dangerous addiction to foreign oil: "Knowing what we know about Chavez, knowing what we know about Putin, knowing what we know about the leaders in the Middle East, it is not good for our country, as a matter of national security, to have that much of our country's future hooked to people who don't like us or want to do us harm. On that basis alone, the public investment, the public encouragement toward ethanol is worth it -- and then some."
Pawlenty, who chairs the National Governors Association and has selected a clean energy future as the year's group topic, called ethanol a "win" on many fronts. "Ethanol is a five-fold win on national security, on economic stability, on rural economic development, on environment policy, and importantly on agriculture and farm policy as well," he said.
U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) highlighted Congress's role in ethanol going forward. "We need to have effective public policy in place that keeps the ethanol industry growing in a sustainable and productive manner," he said. "A higher Renewable Fuel Standard, greater access to renewable fuel pumps, more research and development of cellulosic ethanol, and perhaps most importantly, approval of intermediate ethanol blends are critical to the growth and sustainability of the ethanol industry."
Thune has focused heavily on the issue of higher ethanol blends, urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to act quickly on Minnesota’s forthcoming application for the approval of E20. "Congress and the Administration need to work together with the ethanol and automotive industries to approve intermediate blends of ethanol-blended gasoline for non flex-fuel vehicles," he said. "No one ever said that transforming the primary energy source for the world’s largest economy would be easy. But America's farmers and ethanol producers are meeting the challenge."
ACE is the nation's largest ethanol association, with nearly 2,000 members nationwide. Next year's conference will be held at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb.