Increased use of ethanol delivers energy security, promotes environmental stewardship, and revitalizes rural communities. That’s the message the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) delivered to members of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommitee on Conservation, Credit, Rural Development and Research.

Lake Preston, S.D., producer Lynn Jensen told committee members that with the uncertainty of the nation’s energy supply, the arguments to promote ethanol production are compelling. Jensen, who is also chairman of the NCGA, said the current cost of producing ethanol ranges from $0.95 to $1.10 per gallon. Ethanol facilities are cost-effective and energy efficient, producing 135 BTUs of ethanol from every 100 BTUs expended in the production process. And, citing research conducted by the Argonne National Laboratory, Jensen explained that ethanol produces 32 percent fewer greenhouse-gas emissions than gasoline.

According to the Congressional Research Service, currently, U.S. refineries can only meet 85 percent of domestic demand for refined petroleum products, while a decade ago they could meet 94 percent of demand. In addition, the U.S. now imports 52 percent of its oil, up from 47 percent a decade ago.

Jensen suggested a two-track approach. First, a comprehensive energy strategy that includes a renewable fuels requirement that would complement the current oxygen requirement in the federal reformulated gasoline program. And second, a comprehensive reauthorization of the Clean Air Act where new developments in fuel and vehicle technology would receive the critical analysis that environmental policy demands. These two factors, say Jensen, would provide the renewable fuels industry the necessary signals needed to attract additional investment while maintaining the environmental benefits of current law that has provided millions of Americans with cleaner air.