Energy minister supports ethanol expansion despite critics

By Laura Broadley, St. Thomas Times-Journal

Despite critics who say that ethanol production is a waste of resources that only adds to climate change, Ontario’s energy minister says he fully supports the production of the clean-burning fuel.

Glenn Thibeault was in Aylmer Monday to help IGPC Ethanol celebrate its $120 million expansion. He said if Ontario is able to decrease its greenhouse gas emission by utilizing more ethanol then it is a benefit for those who are battling climate change.

“We can always find ways to do things better, and I think our farmers, our farming community and the ethanol community all working together will find ways of actually farming and doing that process better as we move forward in the future,” Thibeault said.

Thibeault said the IGPC Ethanol expansion was great news for the people of Aylmer with the construction and 25 permanent jobs that will be created.

“The more ethanol that we can put into our fuels the actual better it is for the environment, so that’s why it’s great to see this type of expansion,” Thibeault said.

Thibeault said he is working to get more ethanol into the regional fuel supply because it will help farmers in the area as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The $120 million investment is taking aim at imported ethanol by doubling its ethanol production. By 2018 IGPC Ethanol will produce about 400 million litres of the fuel per year.

Thibeault said he wants to see at least five per cent of ethanol in all fuels. He said he’s working with his counterparts across the country to see if they can come up with a Canadian standard.

“That increase will not only help us with reducing our carbon but also create more jobs for us here right in Aylmer. You’ve got not only a provincial leader but a national leader in terms of ethanol creation at this location. That’s good news for jobs and it’s good news for those of us that are worrying about climate change,” Thibeault said.

Despite a setback in Tillsonburg last week that saw Siemans Canada close a wind turbine blade plant putting 340 workers out of a job , Thibeault is still positive about the direction the green energy sector is going in the province.

“We still have over 42,000 jobs, almost 43,000 jobs in our province that relate to the green sector. And we’re going to continue to see that grow,” Thibeault said.

Thibeault cited the success of the government’s green energy plan by using the lack of smog advisories over the last few years as an indicator. He said the government has made investments in the system that doesn’t rely on coal.

“We’re going to continue to see growth in this sector because that is the way of the future,” Thibeault said.

MPP Jeff Yurek said he supports IGPC Ethanol’s expansion because of the jobs it will create, the farmers it will support and the greenhouse gas emissions it will eliminate, but he said he thinks the current government has mismanaged the green energy file.

“We’ve seen this government has mismanaged the green energy file from day one; overpaying for production and now we’re creating too much energy than we need. However, we will continue to have green energy in our mix,” Yurek said.