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ACE 2021 Awards Honor Ethanol Industry Contributors

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) honored a select group of advocates in the past and present for their contributions to the ethanol industry during its 34th annual conference this month in Minneapolis.

The Merle Anderson Award, named after the organization’s founder, goes to the late Larry Johnson this year. Most famous for driving the ethanol “answer van” around the Midwest to address questions from the public about the benefits of ethanol, the “Answer Man,” Larry Johnson, was a Minnesota farmer who saw ethanol as a way to help rescue the rural economy from the 1980s farm crisis. As the former President of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and member of the National Corn Growers Association Board of Directors, Larry was also instrumental in pushing for public policies to benefit farmers and the ethanol industry. ACE Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty presented the award which was accepted by Larry’s wife, Sandy, and other family members.

“The ethanol industry has had many faces over the years, but in the 1980s when I was working for a company that supplied fuel to Midwest retailers, that face had a big smile and handlebar moustache no one will ever forget,” Lamberty said. “He was one of the first ethanol people I met who promoted ethanol as a quality fuel and good business decision rather than telling drivers and station owners they were bad people if they didn't buy it or sell it. That approach made Larry welcome at stations and taught me to take the same approach when I took a similar job at ACE.”

ACE presented the 2021 Policy and Legislative Leadership Award to Brendan Jordan, Vice President of Transportation & Fuels with the Great Plains Institute, for his leadership in helping establish the Midwest Clean Fuels Policy Initiative and being a driving force behind the introduction of clean fuel legislation in Minnesota and other Midwest states. John Christianson of Christianson PLLP presented Jordan the award following a conference panel he participated on discussing the status of clean fuel policies.

“ACE has been a leader in emphasizing the carbon reduction benefits of ethanol and demonstrating that the ethanol industry can benefit from policies that explicitly reward lower carbon fuels,” Jordan said. “I feel strongly that an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to clean fuels will get results more quickly than a ‘pick-winners’ approach. I’m excited to work with ACE and other clean fuel partners to make progress on state and federal policy that leads to economic growth and carbon reductions as soon as possible.”

ACE gave out the Grassroots Award to The Hormel Institute for conducting research suggesting gasoline containing ethanol (such as E10, E15, and E85) results in lower emissions of toxic chemicals known to cause cancer, as well as the Institute’s contributions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including their collaboration with ACE member Absolute Energy, under the leadership of CEO Rick Schwarck, to provide hand sanitizer to the Mayo Clinic.

“We are honored to receive this prestigious and meaningful award. Our collaborations with ethanol industry leaders, beginning with Absolute Energy and Mr. Rick Schwarck, show shared values and a shared mission in the most critical area of all – protecting human health,” said Dr. Robert Clarke, Executive Director of The Hormel Institute. “We look forward to advancing this type of research at The Hormel Institute and continuing to impact human health through finding more answers as to what may prevent more cancers and other diseases.”

Watch an acceptance video submitted by Dr. Clarke here.


ACE Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty presented the Paul Dana Marketing Vision Award to Christianson PLLP. Jamey Cline, Business Development Director with Christianson, accepted the award on the company’s behalf. Following the roll out of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP), Christianson helped biofuel and corn organizations field questions from fuel retailers about the grant application process and helped retailers directly navigate the sometimes-complicated application process to receive federal funds to make upgrades at their station(s) to sell higher ethanol blends.

“As soon as the HBIIP grants were announced we looked at them from our client’s perspective and created a curated program to assist them through the grant application,” Cline said. “I am delighted to not only be acknowledged for the work we have accomplished this past year, but to be surrounded by a team of colleagues, and organizations like ACE, who are passionate about helping our clients and furthering the renewable fuels industry.”

For photos, interviews, and archived videos from the 2021 ACE conference, visit the virtual newsroom.

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