This is the final day of a conference that’s drawn leaders in the biofuels industry from around the world to Omaha/Council Bluffs. Ron Lamberty, vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol, says one of the big topics of conversation is — who’s attacking ethanol now? Lamberty says: "We just got done with the E-P-A going over the facts and making a judgment that a waiver wasn’t warranted that the Texas governor suggested. We’re going to have those kinds of attacks as we go on. There’s always some discussion about what the folks are saying about ethanol out there and how we can get the information out to correct some of the misinformation."
The American Coalition for Ethanol, or ACE, is based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Lamberty says there are a lot of things to look forward to for people who are involved in the ethanol industry. He says: "Gas prices are pretty high still, even though they’ve come down and corn prices have come down a little bit and I think things are a lot better right now than they were even a couple of months ago. Looking at the future, things like cellulosic ethanol, blender pumps at gas stations with blends of E-20, E-30, E-40, looking toward the future, so a lot of things about the future of ethanol, some the immediate future and some in the more distant future."
While gas prices have fallen about 40-cents a gallon in recent weeks, diesel prices remain quite high. Diesel is the main fuel used by farmers and coupled with the high price of fertilizer, some farmers are having a difficult time making ends meet, especially with corn prices falling. Lamberty says this is where soybeans can come to the rescue with soy-based fuels.
"What we really need to do is get biodiesel ramped up so we have a bigger, viable replacement for diesel so those prices go down," Lamberty says. "The competition for ethanol is keeping gas prices quite a bit lower than the prices for diesel. We have to grow that part of the industry too so we can get some relieve for those guys out there trying to grow corn for us." He says that would also help ease the high cost of food since diesel fuel is used to transport items from manufacturer to store.
The 21st annual American Coalition for Ethanol Conference opened Monday at the Qwest Center in Omaha and wraps up today.