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As others see it: It's time to step up ethanol support

Ethanol is important in west central Minnesota and across rural America.

That is why it is critical for all citizens to take time to write letters to the federal Environmental Protection Agency by Tuesday, citing their opposition to its proposal to reduce the nation’s Renewable Fuel Standard by 10 percent or 1.4 billion gallons in 2014.

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This is a significant decrease, one that would hit Minnesota’s ethanol industry hard and impact west central Minnesota.

Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Dave Frederickson said the EPA proposal would result in a decrease in demand in Minnesota of about 110 million gallons, which is equal to the annual production of the state’s largest plant.

The state Department of Agriculture estimated Minnesota will suffer a hit of $610 million in lost economic activity and as much as 1,500 jobs.

There is local impact near every ethanol plant. The Bushmills plant in Atwater employs 37 people with a payroll of $3.5 million. The company also spends $5 million in the county, not including its corn purchases.

The longer-term result of reducing the Renewable Fuel Standard would be the resulting discouragement of future development of cellulosic and other second stage biofuels.

It is time for citizens to write to the EPA expressing their concern and opposition to the proposed reduction of the Renewable Fuel Standard.