Remembering the ‘Ethanol Answer Man’

July 27, 2020 | | Uncategorized

Many, many, people in the agriculture and biofuels industry were saddened  to learn that Larry Johnson, known as the ‘Ethanol Answer Man’, passed away on July 19. He was eulogized in the Ethanol Producer Magazine , the Star Tribune, the MN Corn blog, and on, and we can expect to see other tributes as well.

Larry was well-known for his role as a pioneer in establishing Minnesota’s ethanol industry, and Minnesota’s ethanol producer payment program was a model for our work to promote advanced biofuels, biobased chemicals, and biomass thermal energy.He also played a vital role in creating the Bioeconomy Coalition of Minnesota and passing the Bioincentive Program. Larry was active in the Coalition from the very beginning and spent countless hours helping to build support for our agenda. As I was unknown in the ethanol and agriculture circles,, he opened a lot of doors for me. Larry spent many hours at the Minnesota Capitol helping to educate legislators. He personally, as a member of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, offered up the resolution at the annual meeting to add the Bioincentive Program to the policy platform. Its hard to see how we could have gotten where we are today with Larry’s help.

Although Larry’s background was as a corn farmer and an ethanol industry innovator, he embraced a broad view of the bioeconomy. He made many trips up north with Bioeconomy Coalition delegations to meet with stakeholders from the forest products industry and learn about high value opportunities from wood. And, he was supportive of prospects that diversified the ethanol and biodiesel industries with production of biobased chemicals. He was also known for his work in planning corn stover supply systems for cellulosic biofuel plants, and consulted on various advanced biofuel projects.

Larry was a kind, generous, and good-humored person. And, if I might add, a good friend. Larry embodied the fine art of “disagreeing without being disagreeable”. He enjoyed talking with  anyone, enjoyed a good debate, and enjoyed the camaraderie ofcoalition work. He rarely missed a GPI or Bioeconomy Coalition of Minnesota happy hour or event. His voice, smile, and trademark mustache were unmistakable. We will miss his endearing spirit at future meetings and events and remain grateful for all he contributed to our mission.

Click here to read his full obituary.