A truck prepares to depart POET Biorefining of Alexandria after filling up with a load of ethanol, in this file photo. A truck can carry 8,000 gallons, and the plant produces 6 million gallons a month on average. Because POET produces a product that creates carbon, it would be subject to a fee proposed by the Citizens' Climate Lobby. Staff file photo by Don Knight
ANDERSON — Though the effects wouldn’t be immediate, representatives of POET Biorefining-Alexandria worry a decrease in ethanol fuel requirements could lead to the industry’s stagnation.
As the Environmental Protection Agency looks to lower the amount of biofuels required to be mixed with the nation’s gasoline in 2018, plant manager Dave Hudak said a decrease in demand would mean fewer plants having funds to invest in finding new and better biofuels.
“If there is no development for cellulosic ethanol, and the amount of ethanol in our gasoline is limited to where it’s at now…there are no incentives for retailers to put in pumps or for the industry to have higher blends of ethanol then ultimately that stagnates us,” Hudak said.
Though many people are familiar with corn-derived ethanol, which POET’s plant in Alexandria produces, the industry is looking to shift toward cellulosic-based fuels, which use the inedible parts of plants that are usually thrown out or destroyed. Current fuels use the edible parts of plants, which diverts potential food sources for fuel.
But if requirements for biofuels continue to decrease, Hudak worries, companies won’t have the capital or market to invest in new technologies, which in the end would hurt consumers and the planet.
But Hudak said he’s confident in President Donald Trump, who on the campaign trail promised to stick up for farmers and biofuels.
“We are confident President Trump will stop the EPA from lowering these (requirements). He has repeatedly said he will stand with rural America, farmers , so we are defiantly confident he will do this,” Hudak said.