Recent inflammatory comments from Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez are yet another wake up call to the importance of expanding our own renewable fuels industry in the United States.
That warning was issued by Don Hutchens, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board.
"Venezuela is currently the third largest exporter of crude oil and petroleum products to the U.S., behind only Canada and Mexico," he says. "If the U.S. wants to reduce, and eventually eliminate, its dependence on unpredictable and off-the-wall leaders like Chavez, homegrown, renewable fuels are part of the answer.
"Developing renewable fuel sources here at home to reduce our dependence on foreign oil is one way to send people like Mr. Chavez a message. It is apparent that Chavez is striving to join forces with the likes of Fidel Castro and the Iranian leader Ahmadinejad."
It's not just a matter of energy security, according to Hutchens. "It's also a matter of pride. Chavez simply does not deserve the satisfaction of receiving American dollars in exchange for Venezuelan oil."
Nebraska has established itself as a leader in renewable fuels, with 12 ethanol plants currently producing 600 million gallons of ethanol.
Jon Holzfaster of Paxton, is chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and member of the National Corn Growers Ethanol Committee. He says that ethanol production could potentially double within the next 18 months.
"Nebraska corn and soybean farmers have invested their time and money to help the U.S. become less dependent on foreign oil," Holzfaster says. "This expansion is great news for farmers, rural communities and the American motoring public. But we need to keep the positive momentum going. The opportunity to establish energy independence is right here in front of us."
Adds Hutchens, "I would rather put my trust in the American farmer to grow the resources we need and convert them to energy, than to depend on the likes of Hugo Chavez."