U.S. Senator Charles Grassley was given a tour of POET/DSM Project LIBERTY last week.
"I won't be able to come to the Grand Opening, so they invited me here to see it," said Sen. Grassley. "When I go to a business place to tour, I always talk to the employees."
The Senator spent half of his time at POET talking to the employees and answering questions. They talked mostly about ethanol.
A TOUR OF PROJECT LIBERTY -- Daron Wilson, general manager of POET/DSM Emmetsburg, is pictured (left) giving a tour of Project LIBERTY to U.S. Senator Charles Grassley, Kyle Gilley, POET’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Corporate Affairs, and the Senator’s aide. In addition to touring the new cellulosic ethanol plant, Sen. Grassley visited with POET employees. -- photo courtesy of POET
"We talked about the possibility about retaining the RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard)," said Grassley. "It's in EPA, where it's been since last November. They could have issued a rule around Feb. 1. We think we've made some impact, I can't prove that, but by the delay and the delay and the delay now I think it's going to be delayed until after the election."
Grassley said he did not know if the RFS would be the original 13 billion gallons or, if they don't do anything, it would go to 14.4 billion gallons.
"That's what they're supposed to use this year (14.4 billion gallons), or somewhere in between," he said. "We don't know even when we talk to the director. We've even talked to people at the White House."
The last person employee to speak said that he was born in Emmetsburg and glad to live here.
"He said, 'just look at the good jobs we've been creating.' I said, you just said one-fifth of what I generally end a speech with on ethanol:
"It's good for the jobs in rural America that you never thought you'd have.
"It's good for agricultural income.
"It's good for the environment.
"It's good for national security, because energy is very essential to protect our country and help the military.
"It's good for balance of trade because you keep exporting.
"So I always end my speech: Everything about ethanol is good, good, good. There's no negatives about it."
One Of A Kind
Sen. Grassley pointed out, "When they keep using the phrase 'one of a kind' 'the biggest' or 'the second biggest' it's pretty impressive, coming from rural America.
"The foresight of people, not only for ethanol from grain, moving to cellulosic it's phenomenal very, very impressive. Just the capitalization of it, the ability to get that done to even do all this building is pretty impressive, and then the scientific work that goes into the process."
Grassley encourages people to go back to the 1970s. "Who would ever thought you and I would never think that we were going to be able to run our cars off of stuff made from corn. Here we are, doing it big time.
"You would have been laughed at if you'd have said we're going to make it from corn stalk, and leaves and stover and all that stuff.
"It's just kind of unbelievable. Seeing is believing" he said.
On a personal note, Grassley related, "In 1984 I bought a 1964 Oldsmobile and I had it for about 20 years and I always burned the 10-percent (ethanol) in it. Somebody was telling me that a car made in the 1980s, ethanol was ruining it. Don't tell me that stuff, I burn it in a 1964 Oldsmobile."
A Look At Ethanol
"Our biggest problem in Washington is ignorance about ethanol," said Grassley. "It's difficult to fight ignorance. One of the best examples about ethanol is the number of people that pronounce it 'eethanol'."
Continuing on that thought, Grassley added, "There's a great deal of ignorance. A few years ago, the biggest uproar about ethanol was, we've got $7 corn because of a drought, you shouldn't be using corn for ethanol, we've got to use it for feed. We were planting 93 million acres of corn. Why are we planting 93 million acres instead of 85 million acres? Because of ethanol. If we didn't have ethanol, we'd be planting 85 million acres of corn and if we had a drought we'd still have $7 corn. I probably made people mad if I tried to tell people that, but sometimes you have to explain that to farmers, livestock farmers. That's part of the problem we have defending ethanol."
Project LIBERTY Grand Opening is Wednesday, Sept. 3. Public tours begin at 9 a.m. with opening presentation at 11 a.m. Lunch and tours will follow.