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Farmers Union Biofuels Panel Discuss Ethanol’s Role in Economy

Lura Roti
for South Dakota Farmers Union

South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU) President Doug Sombke was one of two panelists serving on a Biofuels panel during the 2022 National Farmers Union Convention held in Denver. The other panelist was Dan Bowerson, Senior Director, Energy and Environment at the Alliance for Automotive Innovation.

The panel focused on ethanol’s role today, and where the liquid fuel fits as auto manufacturers are turning out electric vehicles in earnest.

Just a few months into 2022, sales of electric vehicles (EV) increased by 425 percent. But, Bowerson said there is still room for ethanol in today’s marketplace. Bowerson’s group works with auto manufacturers producing nearly 99 percent of new cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. as well as original equipment suppliers, technology and other automotive-related companies and trade associations.



“The auto industry is all in on the administration’s goal of 40 percent electric vehicles. With the right policy we can do this. We can make vehicles, but we cannot make people buy them,” Bowerson said. “We really need a holistic approach and low carbon, high octane fuels can play a role in any future. They should be promoted for their market benefits.”

The panel moderator, Anne Steckel, Senior Adviser for National Farmers Union, agreed. “We have the solution for today and now.”



Sombke’s discussion focused on higher ethanol blends, like E30, and their ability to produce a fuel that is safe for families and the environment. He also added that recent events emphasize the benefits of E30’s homegrown nature as a fuel source. “When this Ukraine invasion happened and talk about $5 gasoline, the first thing I thought was, “wouldn’t it be wonderful if every gas pump in the U.S. pumped E30.’”

In addition to its U.S.-based production benefits, Sombke went on to share the benefits of E30 as a low carbon, high octane fuel, as well as research detailing its overall health benefits. “When the ethanol industry began, two things we as farmers saw as benefits were good prices and the ability to make a living on the farm without damaging the environment,” Sombke said. “Today, we know that E30 also takes CO2 out of the air and carcinogens out of fuel.”


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