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POET Biorefining launches Project LIBERTY

By Staff | Nov 4, 2009

This week, a U.S. Navy destroyer built from steel from the World Trade Center entered a harbor by New York City.

On Tuesday, several hundred gathered to view preparations for one of the first cellulosic-ethanol plants in the world.

So what’s the connection?

Both represent American liberty – and independence.

Project LIBERTY, a proposed cellulosic ethanol plant, moved from the concept stage to preparations for production southeast of Emmetsburg. The plant, which will be located next to POET’s existing corn-based ethanol plant, will begin construction next year and will be completed by 2011.

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of cellulosic-based ethanol is that it addresses the objections of those who claim that ethanol production raises food prices.

In all reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

It would cost just about as much to deliver an empty grocery box to the supermarket as it would a full one. In fact, the farmer only gets a nickel for each box of corn sold off the grocer’s shelf.

Some self-proclaimed “authorities” say that burning corn would generate as much energy as ethanol production. However, they conveniently neglect to address the pollution that would be generated from burning corn.

Corn-based ethanol is in fact the best thing to come down the road for Iowa farmers, Iowa’s economy and the environment for a very long time.

Except for cellulosic ethanol, of course.

That’s why Tuesday’s event at POET Biorefining in Emmetsburg is so important. The process, which makes ethanol from corn cobs, does in fact address the objections targeting ethanol in the food-versus-fuel debate.

Probably the next argument down the pike will be that stover should be left in the field for no-till farming practices. However, that objection has already been addressed.

Stuart Birrell of Iowa State University was on hand at Tuesday’s event to show just how much stover should be left in the field.

Our region is at the epicenter of renewable fuels development. The impact will be huge and long.

When coupled with the wind turbine and energy technology program at Iowa Lakes Community College, the biofuels program at the Iowa Lakes Emmetsburg campus shows just how in step our local community college is with the renewable energy industry.

Unfortunately, at this point, politics is the only thing getting in the way.

By urging lawmakers at the state and federal level to support renewable energy development, you are helping to improve Iowa’s economy and the environment.

And that should be something we can all agree upon.