Rep. Tschumper takes on ethanol

February 9th, 2008


Today’s StPPP reports that Rep. Ken Tschumper is taking on ethanol, demanding environmental review. THANK YOU, KEN! Here’s the article:

Lawmaker proposes environmental review of new ethanol plants

Pioneer Press
Article Last Updated: 02/08/2008 04:03:42 PM CST

A southern Minnesota lawmaker said today he plans to introduce a bill in the state House next week that would require mandatory environmental reviews of all new ethanol plants.
State Rep. Ken Tschumper, DFL-LaCrescent, said such plants have environmental impacts, and should face the same types of scientific study that many other large ventures undergo. Besides using substantial quantities of groundwater and polluting the air, corn-based ethanol plants have led to increases in soil erosion, fertilizer runoff, and herbicide use, according to Tschumper.

Large ethanol plants have been exempted from environmental reviews in Minnesota since 2004, Tschumper said.

Minnesota has 17 ethanol plants producing 675 million gallons of the fuel a year, with another four under construction. Almost a dozen other ethanol plants have been proposed or are in their early planning stages, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

This will go to the House Environment Committee.

CLICK HERE for House Environment Committee members & contact info. 

Here’s his own press release with a little more detail:



ROCHESTER, MN – State Representative Ken Tschumper (DFL – Houston and Fillmore counties) announced new legislation today that would require mandatory Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) for all new ethanol plants in Minnesota. Facilities that produce ethanol in Minnesota are currently exempt from having to do an EIS in most cases.

“Congress and various state legislatures have passed generous subsidies to promote the development and expansion of ethanol plants and mandated various levels of ethanol content in gasoline,” Tschumper commented. “Some states, including Minnesota, have gone even farther by exempting ethanol production facilities from the normal environmental review and regulation that such projects of similar size would undergo in other sectors of the economy.”

However in the last several years existing ethanol facilities have expanded and new plants are proposed that are much larger than in the past.

“The environmental impacts of this expanding ethanol production are causing great concern,” Tschumper emphasized. “Huge demands on groundwater, increased air pollution, heavy demands for rail transportation, increased soil erosion and fertilizer runoff, negative impacts on livestock prices and the increased use of atrazine, (a pesticide known to cause prostrate and uterine cancer in humans) are impacting our lives, our financial stability, and our environment.”

This is especially true for Minnesota. Many of the rural areas where ethanol plants exist or are proposed also have important livestock farming, especially in southern Minnesota.

“As we all know, the most important resource we have in southern Minnesota is our abundant, high quality supply of groundwater. Our livestock industry is very dependent on this critical resource, ” Tschumper, a dairy farmer himself, added.

Since the Groundwater Protection Act was passed in 1989, the State of Minnesota, working with county governments, has engaged in many initiatives to monitor and protect our precious groundwater resources.

“Unfortunately our groundwater resources on which our livestock industry is so dependent, is now being threatened by this new generation of ethanol plants. I plan on doing everything I can to protect our groundwater and our livestock industry,” Tschumper promised.

Ethanol production uses 5-6 gallons of high quality groundwater for every gallon of ethanol produced. An ethanol plant capable of producing 100 million gallons of ethanol annually will draw 500 million to 600 million gallons of water from an aquifer annually. This tremendous draw down in such a short period of time will challenge the ability of many aquifers to recharge themselves and will expose cleaner, higher quality aquifers to more pollution from pesticides and fertilizers. This has long-term implications for not only our livestock farming but also our small towns and other rural businesses.

Environmental Impact Statements are a complete scientific study of all the environmental, economic and health impacts of a proposed project.

“It is important to understand that Environmental Impact Statements do not halt projects,” said Rep. Tschumper. “They simply provide more science-based information as to the long-term consequences of these projects for our environment, our economy, and our health. Requiring an EIS for all future ethanol production facilities is reasonable, responsible and necessary.”

The EIS process that ethanol facilities will do under this legislation is similar to the standard environmental review required for projects of similar size in other sectors of the economy.

“Many large industrial and commercial projects in Minnesota are required to complete an Environmental Impact Statement before they can be built,” said Rep. Tschumper. “Prior to 2004, ethanol plants of a certain size were required to do the same, but they were exempted from this requirement that same year. Clearly that was a mistake given the growing environmental concerns surrounding current ethanol production practices.”

Rep. Tschumper will introduce his bill when the legislative session resumes February 12, 2008.

One Response to “Rep. Tschumper takes on ethanol”

  1. Frank Wright Says:

    Thanks for reporting on this. Rest assured, this good deed will not go unpunished. Last year’s Atrazine initiatives by Representative Tschumper have resulted in Syngenta’s first shot across the bow at him in the upcoming election. They have a full page ad in the Feb 4 issue of the Fillmore County Journal. The same ad was in a half page version in last Sunday’s Rochester Post Bulletin. Take a look at the ad in the FCJ. Go to their homepage at: , click the PDF link on the homepage then download the Feb 4 issue PDF. The ad is page 20. Atrazine is a big cash cow for Syngenta and Tschumper, especially because he is a successful chemical-free dairy farmer, will need to be squashed like a bug. The biofuels boom has skyrocketed Syngenta’s profits by 75% this year as noted on page two of Friday’s NYT story .

    For those who do not want to download the rather large PDF of the full print version of the Feb 4 FCJournal, here is the text of the page 20 ad under the portrait of Germain Davison:

    Real-world Environmentalist

    More than half of the land in Minnesota is tended by farmers like Germain Davison of Hokah.
    He and other Minnesota farmers work hard to balance the needs of their business with the
    protection of our land, water and air. By farming responsibly, they have earned a reputation as
    real-world environmentalists.
    Valuable tools like atrazine herbicide help them produce a healthy and abundant corn crop while
    allowing them to farm with minimal tillage of the land. This helps keep sediment out of our lakes
    and rivers, and uses less fuel to keep exhaust emissions out of our skies.
    Nearly 50 years of scientific study and on-farm use give farmers peace of mind that atrazine can
    be used safely and effectively. That’s great news in these days of increasing demand for food and
    renewable fuels like ethanol. Minnesota farmers want you and your state representatives to know
    they depend on important tools like atrazine—for a healthy crop and a healthy environment.
    Visit to learn more.

    The last line is major scent-marking by Syngenta toward Tschumper and other area legislators.
    This is not an ad to sell Atrazine, but an ad to sow fear. I’m sending Ken $50 today. Watch for more ads. This is a classic David vs Goliath story.

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