Vilsack Interview Highlights Biofuel Contributions

  • Friday, 26 February 2016 12:25

Ethanol has allowed consumers to access cheaper gas, stabilized prices at the pump and reduced greenhouse gases (GHG), Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, said in a new interview.

In an interview with Here & Now's Robin Young, Vilsack said GHG savings from ethanol were the equivilant of removing 124 million cars off the road. Below are the excerpts from that interview:

“Well, there are a multitude of reasons why the renewable fuel industry is a good industry for America. Let me start with the fact that I was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean watching a U.S. destroyer, the U.S.S. Livingston, being refueled with a biofuel that was made from beef tallow. Commercial aviation interests are very interested in a biofuel because of emissions, and the ability to meet international emission standards. The reality is the biofuel industry has allowed consumers in this country to have less expensive gas, anywhere from 25 cents to a dollar, depending on the price of gas at any given point in time, saved as a result of the biofuel industry. I helps to employ, directly or indirectly, over 4,000 folks. It’s stabilized farm prices and it has taken, in the last 15 years, the equivalent to 124 million cars off the road. So there are many benefits to this industry, and it provides for less reliance on foreign oil, which is one of the reasons why we are now in a position to be less reliant on foreign oil than we were 10 or 15 years ago. There are many benefits to this industry, and I will tell you know we are beginning to see ethanol production being a much more energy efficient and more so than it was 15 years ago when it first got started.”

There is criticism that ethanol takes more energy to produce than it creates.

“It doesn’t. The fact is that we just put out a study that indicates that for every unit of energy put into producing ethanol and the byproducts, we basically get a little over 2.3 units back. So it is much more energy efficient, and I think there’s at least one study that I have seen that suggests it is even more energy efficient than petroleum. Having said that, I do think it is important for us to continue to be on the cutting edge. We’re beginning to export more of this, we had the second best export year in history, in terms of ethanol. We’re beginning to see more and creative ways to produce this fuel. Landfill waste, agricultural waste, woody biomass, perennial grasses, there are a multitude of ways that this fuel is going to be and is being produced and will be in the future that will balanced off corn-based ethanol. So, with due respect to Senator Cruz, I think if he understood the full benefits, if he understood that the state of Texas recently participated in a blender pump initiative in which we are encouraging higher blends of ethanol, that the state of Texas is going to dedicate hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars to expand access to higher blends of ethanol, he might have had a different approach in Iowa than he had. We will continue to try and make sure folks understand and appreciate that there are many benefits from this industry.

Read the rest of the interview here: