Neither snow nor rain kept the American Coalition for Ethanol fly-in teams from completing their appointed rounds last week on Capitol Hill. While the federal government was shut down for the snow, Congress was still open and surprisingly few pre-arranged meetings were cancelled. ACE members were even able to sit down with several members of Congress, including Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), and the entire group heard from Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA).This event has been getting real people from all segments of the ethanol industry into Congressional offices for a decade now, and several ACE members have attended every year. Among them is Dave Sovereign who serves as vice president for the organization and is a farmer who sits on the board of two ethanol plants and owns part of a retail fuel outlet. “We’re here to bring the entire picture together,” said Sovereign. “If it’s good for farmers, it’s good for the local community, it’s good for the state, and it’s good for the entire nation.”
Rick Schwarck of Absolute Energy has also attended all ten years. “Bringing this grassroots effort to Washington D.C. pays dividends,” Schwarck said. “We’re not just going to see our friends. We’re visiting with folks from oil producing states and others.” Schwarck was one of the industry representatives chosen to meet with the president earlier this month to explain why a waiver to allow 15% ethanol to be sold year round will bring down the price of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs).
The early Spring snowfall in D.C. last week was probably the worst weather the fly-in has seen in ten years, but Jerry Calease of Golden Grain Energy says it was nothing to most of the attendees. “Growing up in Iowa, and I was with a team from Minnesota, and we know what 4 or 6 inches of snow is, so that was no big deal,” he said.
Listen to interviews with Dave, Rick and Jerry below:Interview with Dave Sovereign, Golden Grain Energy Interview with Rick Schwarck, Absolute Energy Interview with Jerry Calease, Golden Grain Energy