About Cindy Zimmerman

Cindy has been reporting about agricultural topics since 1980 when she graduated with a degree in broadcasting from the University of Florida. She is an emeritus member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters and 1991 Oscar in Agriculture winner. She and her husband Chuck started ZimmComm New Media in 2003. They have three beautiful daughters and live near white sand beaches of Pensacola, Florida.

Catalytic Conversion Could Make Ethanol Cheaper

Syngas Lowering the cost of ethanol production is the goal of Syngas International, a Canadian alternative energy technology corporation. The company hopes to do that by by replacing corn with less-expensive cellulose-based feed stocks and using its “M2 gasifier and PyStR system,” with is catalytic conversion as opposed to fermentation. According to a news release, “cellulosic feed stocks include agricultural wastes, grasses and woods, and other low value biomass such as municipal waste.”

Green Grand Prix

Green Grand Prix Increased awareness of domestic fuel alternatives is helping organizers of the 2nd Annual Green Grand Prix to be held in Watkins Glen, NY on June 2.

The Green Grand Prix features a road rally of Hybrid and Alternative Fueled Vehicles held on an 84-mile course following the perimeter of beautiful Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. The event is designed to benefit the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association and executive director Carol Fitzgerald says they are getting all kinds of sponsorships and media attention.

“This started out as a regional event to emphasize energy independence and a cleaner environment, it has now started to take on a life of it’s own,” she says. “We have sponsorship from Toyota, Lexus, GM, Honda and Ford. The IRL is sponsoring us and is sending their pace car a Honda Civic Hybrid and are getting back to me on other involvement. The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) just phoned me last week and they are interested in a large involvement and sponsorship. They sponsor the Rahal/Letterman IRL race team and are checking on the availability of the Ethanol Indy Show Car and are sending their new IRL driver Jeff Simmons for an autograph session.”

The Green Grand Prix is the brainchild of Robert Gillespie an area artist who is a hybrid car owner and is very passionate about increasing awareness about the vehicles. Last year’s event was a huge success and very well received.

Ethanol Plants in NY, LA and IA

Governor George E. Pataki announced nearly $6 million in State funding to assist Western New York Energy in the development of the first state-of-the-art dry mill ethanol plant in New York State. The $87.4 million facility is to be located on 144 acres in the Town of Shelby, Orleans County.

BioEnergy International, a privately held, biotechnology company headquartered in Norwell, Massachusetts, announced that it has commenced site work on its first biorefinery, a 108 million gallon per year ethanol plant located on land leased from the Lake Providence Port Commission in East Carroll Parish, Louisiana.

VeraSun Energy broke ground on its third ethanol biorefinery in Charles City, Iowa over the weekend. When complete, the biorefinery will produce 110 million gallons of ethanol and 353,000 tons of distillers dried grains (DDGs) annually from 39 million bushels of corn.

Good Time For Ethanol

60 Minutes The folks at the Clean Cities Congress must be loving CBS.

The ethanol industry could hardly have written a better story for itself than “60 Minutes” did tonight. Amazingly, it was all positive – not a discouraging word was heard. Maybe it was because Dan would rather make “Big Oil” look bad than Iowa ethanol farmers. Rather seemed to take particular pleasure in grilling Red Cavaney, the head of the American Petroleum Institute about the cost of switching to E-85, which the oil industry estimates will be $200,000 per station, while Daniel Kammen with the Renewable Energy Lab at the University of California-Berkeley says it’s more like $30-40,000.

“Why shouldn’t I think, well, this is just a way for the oil companies to slow or snuff out the growth of ethanol, and other alternatives?” Rather asked.
“We think we’ve shown that we’re strong supporters for ethanol where it’s appropriate,” Cavaney answered.
But what the oil industry considers “appropriate” is limiting ethanol to an additive and not moving quickly to something like E-85.

Read the whole report or watch the video here.

E-Day at Indy

Indy logo The countdown to the 2006 Indy 500 has begun – the first Indy 500 to be run on ten percent ethanol fuel. To get the momentum going, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is holding “Ethanol Day” on Thursday, May 11, featuring Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman. Chuck will be covering that event live, as soon as he gets back from the Clean Cities Congress.

In addition, throughout the month of May there are five days of the Ethanol Fast Lap (May 10, 11, 17, 18, 26), where an ethanol industry representative will present that day’s fastest driver with a $2,500 check. On May 25 there will also be an Ethanol Forum, allowing industry leaders to discuss the benefits of ethanol as a performance fuel.

ACE Says Lifting Tariff Unnecessary

American Coalition For Ethanol In a press release today, the American Coalition For Ethanol also outlined several reasons why suspending the tariff on ethanol will do nothing to lower gas prices. They are simply:

Lifting the tariff is unnecessary because significant volumes of ethanol already flow in the U.S. duty-free.under the Caribbean Basin Initiative.

Lifting the tariff forces U.S. taxpayers to support the production of foreign ethanol that is already heavily subsidized in Brazil.

Ethanol supplies are indeed adequate to meet the demand created by the removal of MTBE from the fuel supply.

Lifting the tariff would undermine the growth of the domestic ethanol industry.

Bush Favors Ethanol Tariff Cut

President Bush today came out in support of at least a temporary end to the tariff on ethanol imports, putting the “pro-ethanol” president at odds with the ethanol industry and farm-state lawmakers. In an interview with CNBC, Bush said, “I think it makes sense to — when there’s a time of shortage of a product that’s needed, so that the consumers can have a reasonable price, it seems to me to make sense to address those shortages, and dropping a tariff will enable the foreign export of ethanol into our markets, which will particularly help on our coasts. And yeah, I’ve talked to Congress about that.”

However, the ethanol industry contends that there are sufficient supplies of ethanol to meet the demand and that dropping the tariff will have no impact on prices. According to the Renewable Fuels Association:
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that 130,000 barrels per day (b/d) of ethanol will be needed to replace the volume of MTBE refiners have chosen to remove from the gasoline pool. The most recent EIA report shows that U.S. ethanol production has soared to 302,000 b/d in February.

In addition, there have been reports that Brazil is having trouble meeting its own demand for ethanol. A recent Knight-Ridder article said that Brazilian ethanol producers are struggling to keep up with domestic demand for ethanol, which is projected to grow by 50 percent over the next five years. Yet a 15 percent jump in prices earlier this year sparked a sharp drop in consumption. Even so, suppliers are struggling to plant enough fields of new sugar cane, from which ethanol is produced here, to keep up with the anticipated growth in demand.

Gov. Wants to Terminate High Gas Prices

Ahnold California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is directing his state agencies to fight high gas prices by expanding bio-fuels, according to a release from his office. “It is critical that we do everything we can to reduce our dependence on petroleum-based fuels,” said Gov. Schwarzenegger. “Turning waste products into energy is good for the state’s economy, local job creation and our environment. By implementing biomass programs in California, we will help fight critical waste disposal and environmental problems, including the risk of wild fires, air pollution from open field burning, and greenhouse gas emissions from landfills.”
California will produce a minimum of twenty percent of its own biofuels by 2010 and forty percent by 2020, according to targets set by the executive order.

Tariff Debate in High Gear

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman sent ethanol stocks down today with comments that the Bush administration is considering lifting import tariffs on ethanol, but ethanol interests were busy out stating their reasons why the tariffs should remain in place. GrassleyThuneSenator Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) issued a joint statement saying that ending the duty is unnecessary and would have negative consequences. “Everyone’s looking for a way to lower gas prices, but lifting the ethanol tariff won’t mean lower prices for consumers. What’s more, it would undermine efforts to make our country more energy independent and reward the oil companies that are already raking in record profits.”

Don’t Try This at Home

TTB The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is warning the public not to start their own home ethanol plants. A notice on the TTB website says “it is illegal to distill alcohol without first obtaining a Federal permit” from the TTB. The notice is in response to “several news items on people distilling ethanol at home to supplement their gasoline needs.” Those wishing to distill alcohol at home are invited to contact TTB to apply for a permit, but I would bet it’s no easy process, since they note there “may also be additional permitting requirements and other restrictions on the state and local level.”

Domestic Fuel For Amelot

Amelot Cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel hit the spot for a company known as Amelot.

According to their website, “Amelot Holdings Inc. is a Natural Resources and Energy Company including Oil, Gas Alternative and Bio-Energy projects.” A press release this week from Kerry Associates says they have entered into joint negotiations with a cellulose ethanol technology company on behalf of Amelot.

An earlier press release from Amelot announced that they have ordered bio-diesel processing equipment to start production at its first facility, to be located in New Hampshire. Amelot expects to produce over 1 million gallons in 2006. “We are extremely excited that this initial purchase has been formalized. This investment will enable us to create a division within the holding company dedicated to the development of alternative fuels and bio-diesel production. Having already established a solid infrastructure allows us to be generating substantial revenue and profits from this facility within the next 90 days,” commented Aziz Hirji, President of Amelot Holdings, Inc.

Billboard Controversy

MCGA billboard
This graphic appeared in the Columbia (MO) Tribune today, with an article claiming the Missouri Corn Growers Association billboards are continuing to “fuel controversy.” According to the article, the Arab American Institute sent a letter to MCGA asking them to take down eight billboards that show an image of the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. MCGA communications director Becky Grisham said they do not plan to remove the billboards until their contract is up later this month, although they are considering a plan to “replace the king with Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela and an outspoken critic of the United States.”
I bet we could think of other faces that could grace the billboard. Any suggestions? I think it’s a good message and a fair question and it would be great if we could get a national campaign going to put billboards like this up on highways all over the country.

Mandatory but Optional?

A bill passed this week in the Louisiana House would require a portion of the gasoline sold in the state to include ethanol – but at the same time makes the mandatory sale of alternative fuels optional for some retailers. According to the Shreveport Times, Rep. Mickey Frith, D-Kaplan, a convenience store owner who sells gasoline, got House approval in a 55-44 vote to remove a mandate for wholesalers and retailers to sell the product in Louisiana. He promoted it as protecting small dealers who couldn’t meet the cost demands to change tanks and pumps.

ND Plant Gets Boost

According to an AP story in the Grand Forks Herald, a proposed $350 million ethanol plant and coal-fired steam plant is getting a boost from a local economic development group. The Jamestown-Stutsman Development Corp. is investing $6 million in the effort – a $4 million grant over 3 1/2 years and the purchase of $2 million in Spiritwood Energy LLC stock.
Both the Jamestown City Council and Stutsman County Commission approved the money in special meetings this week. The 100 million gallon a year ethanol plant and steam power plant is planned in Spiritwood, about 10 miles east of Jamestown.