In the News: Ethanol's Upside Emphasized

National security; the U.S. economy; agriculture; the environment – they’re among the most significant issues in the U.S. today.

And at the center of all these is something called ethanol, according to Doug Berven, class of 1990 and vice president of Corporate Affairs for POET.

Berven discussed “Revolutionizing Energy” at the Augustana Thought Leader Forum on Thursday.

The following article detailing Berven's presentation appeared in the Friday, Sept. 30, edition of the Argus Leader:

Ethanol's Upside Emphasized
By Jill Callison

If you think ethanol's use of corn is what's driving up food prices, a spokesman for the country's largest producer of the fuel says you're misinformed.

"Ethanol supports grain pricing somewhat, but what's driving grain prices more than ethanol, believe it or not, is the cost of petroleum and speculation," Doug Berven said Thursday, speaking on the "Ethanol Revolution" at the Augustana College Thought Leader Forum.

Ethanol has played a role in increasing the price of corn, and Berven, an Augustana graduate and vice president of corporate affairs for Poet, said that is a good thing.

"We have raised the price, and we're proud of it because it needed to be raised," he said at the noon luncheon.

"Two-dollar corn is not healthy for this country. It's not healthy for the taxpayer. It's not healthy for the rest of the world to have to depend on us."

Poet plants produce 1.7 billion gallons of ethanol each year and another 4.5 million tons of distiller's grains.

With 27 plants in seven Corn Belt states, Poet is the country's largest producer of ethanol.

"This question of fuel for our future is a very important one for our country and for the world," Augustana president Rob Oliver said.

Berven said changes in his industry mean that ethanol producers now obtain about 20 percent more ethanol from a bushel of corn today than they did 20 years ago.

Water use for a gallon of ethanol has decreased by 80 percent, and about 33 percent less energy is needed than 12 years ago.

"Ethanol is a superior fuel," Berven said. "Ethanol is domestic, it's clean, it's cheaper, and it's a much higher octane."

The Augustana Thought Leader Forum, which started in 2008, is a series of three presentations offered each summer.

College professors and alumni offer "thought-providing and interesting" insights on various topics, said Bob Preloger, the college's vice president for marketing and communications.


Kelly Sprecher
Director of Communications & Media Relations