With ground being broken for Project Liberty here in Emmetsburg last week, one might think that the future of ethanol is even brighter than before. With the cellulosic ethanol technology created through Project Liberty, our nation's dependence on foreign oil imports could be reduced even more than before.
But the waters are not so smooth. There is opposition to ethanol and not surprisingly, big oil is leading the charge. But now, the petroleum industry has found a stooge, so to speak, to fight its' battle.
The California Air Resources Board, CARB, the nice folks who regulate smog, has put into place regulations that give preference to California-created ethanol products, and basically discriminates against ethanol from any other state, including Iowa, in the United States from being used in smoggy, whoops, Sunny California.
That's got a few folks' dander up, starting with the ethanol producers across the country, POET included. And, there are a few governors and attorneys general who don't think the California Air Resources Board is playing very nice. In fact, words such as "Illegal trade barrier between states" are being proffered on the dispute.
The states whose ethanol is being shunned have filed a legal brief against the CARB over the issue. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Burning is spearheading the brief, which has been co-signed by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, as well as Attorneys General from the states of Missouri, Michigan, Kansas, North Dakota and South Dakota, the heart of the Corn Belt. The brief against the CARB has been filed with the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad is a firm supporter of the lawsuit and minced few words about the CARB and its actions while he was at the Project Liberty Groundbreaking last Tuesday. "They're discriminating against Midwest-produced ethanol and we think it's clearly unconstitutional," Branstad said. "They've already lost this at the District Court level, and I'm signing on along with several other governors and attorneys general here in the Midwest, supporting the opportunity to be able to compete and be able to sell Midwest ethanol in the California market. It doesn't make any sense for them to discriminate against us and its' clearly unconstitutional. We want to make sure that our Midwest voice is clearly heard on this issue."
The Governor expressed more than a little disbelief at that idea that CARB would take such action.
"California is so far out of touch with reality, its unbelievable," Branstad asserted. "They've been bamboozled, in my opinion, by the oil companies and have fought against ethanol. They pay a whole lot more for gas out there than we do here in the Midwest and they just need to learn that instead of being so extreme in their position, they need to work with other people. In Iowa, we've reduced out dependence on foreign oil, but California has been so resistant to renewable fuels and it's time that instead of fighting renewable fuels, they need to join with the rest of us."
But for now, the west coast can continue to pay more for their gasoline, which continues to contribute to greenhouse gases and more air pollution, while back in Iowa, the ethanol blend fuels will reduce the greenhouse gases, provide economic benefit, to the tune of $6 billion to Iowa's economy, along with 82,000 jobs and $3.7 billion of income to Iowa households.
On second thought, who needs California? Surfing is highly overrated anyway