Senator Tim Johnson stopped in Sioux Falls Monday morning to visit with Poet. There's been a lot of discussion recently about renewable fuel standards and how they're impacting corn prices. But Johnson and ethanol executives are fighting those perceptions.
The Environmental Protection Agency created the renewable fuel standard, or RFS, back in 2005. That mandated a certain volume of renewable fuel had to be blended into gasoline. As some argue the mandate is having a negative impact on corn and feed prices, Johnson is fighting for ethanol and maintaining those fuel standards.
Johnson received the Fueling Growth Award from Poet executives for his commitment to ethanol.
"It is very important," Johnson said. "The cost of gasoline would skyrocket were it not for ethanol."
But the costs for corn and feed, and not gasoline, are what's concerning governors in eight different states. They've requested a waiver from the renewable fuel standard. But Poet CEO Jeff Lautt says the standard doesn't have a significant impact on those prices.
"It would be a shame to take an industry that's become 10 percent of the liquid fuels industry and start to negatively impact that," Lautt said.
"We need to keep working on it," Johnson said. "It would be a crushing blow to the farmers in America if we lose the RFS."
Although Johnson will continue fighting for ethanol in Washington, he knows a healthy energy market relies on more than one source.
"It's important that the ethanol industry is reliable and certain. But there are many sources of fuel," Johnson said.
And while Johnson's attitude encompasses different alternative fuels, he knows what ethanol means to South Dakota.
"He's very keen of always knowing what issues we may have, what he can help us with, talk about the current state of policy," Lautt said.
Lautt added that waiving the renewable fuel standard would hit rural farmers especially hard. That's because he says most have been able to thrive during a bad economy and the drought with the biofuel demand.