With the stroke of a pen, President Bush sealed a future for South Dakota to become an energy mecca for the nation today by signing a historic Energy Bill with a powerhouse Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) that will impact every single South Dakota resident.
“South Dakotans just received a huge Christmas present that will fuel our economy for decades to come!” said Reid Jensen, president of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association. “Ethanol is a $2 billion economic engine in South Dakota and within our borders we have the two largest ethanol producing companies in the world. The Energy Bill will open new opportunities for this state to become the source for renewable energy.”
More than 5 billion bushels of corn nationwide will be used to help American ethanol producers displace 30 percent of foreign oil under the new opportunity markets that the improved Energy Bill created.
“This is a new day in our state and nation and we now have updated rules to play by which will allow us to take control of our energy destiny,” said Jensen. “A 36 billion gallon RFS is huge and South Dakota is uniquely positioned to lead the nation to the next level in energy security.”
South Dakota consumers and rural communities will have twice the advantage from the Energy Bill as it will have on the agricultural and ethanol industries. Not only will consumers benefit by energy efficiency standards, increased fuel economy standards and movements toward green and renewable energy, but a secondary impact will be felt in local towns and communities from the momentum the RFS will create in the ag and ethanol sectors.
The far reaching bill raises fuel economy standards for cars, trucks, and SUVs for the first time since 1975 and contains the most important energy efficiency increase in American history by enacting national efficiency standards for light bulbs.
Clearly the RFS provisions in the Energy Bill will have the greatest impacts on South Dakota. No longer will ethanol producers feel the pressure of an imminent ceiling to produce what the market demands. The bill busts open barriers for growth and the industry can now aggressively pursue expansions and further development to achieve the levels set out in the RFS.
The bill expands the RFS to 9 billion gallons in 2008 and progressively increases it to a 36 billion gallon requirement by 2022. Additionally, the bill makes a historic commitment to develop cellulosic ethanol by requiring that by 2022 the United States produce 21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol.
“We haven’t seen anything yet in terms of what our corn and ethanol producers can achieve,” said Jensen. “With corn genetics on the horizon that will double our corn production on the same number of acres, farmers are more than able to fulfill the needs of our ethanol industry while protecting our food and feed supply. This is not an either/or situation; with today’s and tomorrow’s technology, we are only touching the tip of the ice burg in terms of what South Dakota’s and our nation’s farmers can provide to all markets without jeopardizing conservation and environmental practices. We can do it all and we now have the opportunity to prove it.”
The visionary energy package would not have been possible without support in Congress from both sides of the aisle and all of South Dakota’s Congressional delegation were leaders in their respective roles.
“The votes in the House and Senate speak volumes about the overwhelming support to secure our nation’s energy needs and our legislators just set the direction of our county,” said Jensen. “Our South Dakota Congressional leadership demonstrated their dedication to South Dakotans. This truly is among their finest moments and we congratulate and thank them.”