And the Winner Is…

200 Corvette Giveaway ContestantsWell winners, really. And no, they’re not the two cute girls to the right. They were so cute though that I had to use their picture. It was Darron Stewart and his two sons that had brought the magic touch from Carmel, IN to a certain red buzzer. The troupe won a 2-year lease to a 2008 Indy pace car corvette at this morning’s special giveaway. The giveaway was the final event in a month-long promotion to raise awareness of ethanol. Hank FM, The Indiana Corn Marketing Council and the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council have been hosting pump promotions and corvette qualifying opportunities throughout the month of May. Qualifying contestants drew numbers and lined up accordingly to try their shot at pressing the buzzer. Darron and his boys were the lucky ones and walked away with the keys to a 2008 vette.

Check out video of the winning contestants below:

EPIC’s Joanna Schroeder manned the video. Thanks Joanna.

2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

Scaling Back Ethanol Use Not a Solution to World Hunger for Indiana Corn

Joanna Schroeder There’s no question for the Indiana Corn Marketing Council‘s Mark Walters that the three May pump promotions have all been a huge success. Mark (pictured fourth from left) is the Director of the Biofuels Program for Indiana Corn. He says pump promotions help consumers learn about both sides of the ethanol debate. Some of the ethanol positives he points out are things like the creation of new, permanent jobs, a fuel that circulates cash within the U.S., improved air quality and more. One thing he says it does NOT impact in any significant way is global food shortages. “Doing away with the ethanol industry it not going to solve world hunger,” Mark said.

You can listen to more of what Mark has to say in my interview with him here:

2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

Crystal Flash Rep Says Ethanol a Fuel for the Future

Joanna Schroeder The Crystal Flash at Rangeline in Carmel, IN was the first gas station in the Indianapolis metro area to offer E85 fuel, and that was several years ago. Andy Batt, the Vice President of Merchandising for Crystal Flash fuel retailer, says E85 sales make up about four to five percent of all gallons of fuel sold at the Rangeline location. He says ethanol pump promotions like the one the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council and the Indiana Corn Marketing Council sponsored at his station offer great opportunities to pass savings along to consumers. He says it also helps educate them on what he says has become a very confusing topic. Andy (pictured third from left) says most consumers don’t realize the cost savings that E10 fuel brings to consumers at the pump. Couple that with the fact that the fuel also decreases foreign dependence on oil and, he says, consumers have a sound reason to opt for ethanol fuel blends.

I caught up with Andy at today’s pump promotion. You can listen to why Andy thinks ethanol is a big part of fueling the future here:

2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

Driver Justin Wilson Says Ethanol Makes IndyCars Go Fast

Joanna Schroeder Newbie IndyCar Driver Justin Wilson (pictured 2nd from left) says race car drivers want to go as fast as technology will let them. He says ethanol helps IndyCars do just that. Justin is referring to the smaller tank size and the improved torque when burning 100 percent ethanol fuel. When the IndyCars operated on methanol just a few years ago, the gas tanks held 34 gallons. But now, drivers see the same kind of mileage while burning just 22 gallons of ethanol. Justin says that amounts to extra performance and higher speeds.

Justin began driving in the Indy Racing League this year when Indy and the Champ Car World Series merged in February. He pilots the No. 2 McDonald’s car for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.

I spoke with Justin at today’s pump promotion sponsored by EPIC and the Indiana Corn Marketing Council. You can listen to Graham talk about his experience with driving on ethanol here:

2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

Graham Rahal Says Ethanol is Sweet…

 Hank FM interviews Dallara No. 06 IndyCar driver Graham Rahal…sweet-smelling that is. Graham Rahal, driver of the No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Dallara was one of three IndyCar drivers at the Crystal Flash pump promotion in Carmel, IN this afternoon. The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council and the Indiana Corn Marketing Council sponsored the event.

This is Graham’s first season racing with an engine that runs on 100 percent ethanol fuel. The switch to an ethanol-fueled car also proved to be rather sweet for the 19-year-old Indy competitor. Graham won his first ever Indy race in St. Petersburg, becoming the youngest driver to win a major motorsports victory. Graham snagged the 13th pole position for his biggest race to date, the Indy 500.

I managed to snag some face time with Graham in between radio spots and autograph requests during today’s pump promotion. You can listen to Graham talk about his experience with driving on ethanol here:

2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

Hunter-Reay Says Ethanol Pump Promos Fight Negative Propoganda

Ryan Hunter-Reay autographs a replica of the Team Ethanol No. 7 IndyCar for a race fanTeam Ethanol Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay says pump promotions help emphasize what ethanol is all about: giving consumers a break at the pump as fuel prices continue to spike. Ryan drives the No. 17 Rahal-Letterman Racing IndyCar in the Indy Racing League and he and two other IndyCar drivers were out at the pumps in Carmel, IN today educating consumers on a fuel that’s become the focal point of controversy.

The Indianapolis Star featured a cover story about the recent spotlight on ethanol, fuel prices and food prices. The local newspaper quoted Indiana Agriculture Director Andy Miller saying Congress’ proposed reduction or even end to federal ethanol subsidies “would be a major blow” for his state.

And that’s what Ryan wants to point out: that ethanol would be a considerable blow for consumers too… in every state. Ryan says, in some cases, ethanol helps keep gas prices down by as much as $0.50 a gallon. He says consumers have many questions about ethanol and its negative propaganda, wondering what’s true and what’s false. That’s where pump promotions help. Ryan says filling up on E10 or E85 helps open consumers’ eyes and gives them an opportunity to ask both ethanol experts and IndyCar drivers questions. “It’s worked for the IndyCar Series at 240 miles per hour, it can work for these folks driving at 35,” Ryan said.

I spoke with Ryan about how pump promotions are still a relevant tool in getting out the facts about ethanol. You can listen to my interview with Ryan here:

2008 Indy 500 Photo Album

Defending the Renewable Fuels Standard

Domestic Fuel CastHigher food prices have led to increasing calls for changes in the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) that was implemented as part the Energy bill just signed into law last December, which calls for 36 billion gallons of annual renewable fuel use by 2022.

In this DomesticFuel Cast, we hear from several of the witnesses who testified in support of the RFS at a recent hearing of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality. Included are comments from Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Assistant Administrator Robert Meyers, Bob Dinneen with the Renewable Fuels Association, Nathaneal Greene with the Natural Resources Defense Council, Randy Kremer of KL Process Design Group, and Dr. Mark Stowers with POET.

Here is the Domestic Fuel Cast #3:

You can also subscribe to the Domestic Fuel Cast using the following url/feed link:

Report on Role of Ethanol in Food Prices

RFA PodcastThe Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) held a press conference last week at the National Press Club in Washington DC to counter claims that ethanol production is causing higher food prices.

RFA’s “Ethanol Report” podcast features comments from the four agriculture and ethanol industry leaders who participated in the press conference. Featured are former Agriculture Secretary John Block, National Corn Growers Association CEO Rick Tolman, National Farmers Union president Tom Buis and RFA president Bob Dinneen.

You can subscribe to the twice-monthly “The Ethanol Report” by following this link.

Or you can listen to it on-line here:

Former Ag Secretary Defends Ethanol

Former Secretary of Agriculture John Block can look at the food versus fuel issue from a number of angles. He ran the U.S. Department of Agriculture under President Reagen from 1981-1986. He was executive vice president of the Food Marketing Institute, which represents food retailers and wholesalers. He serves on the board of Friends of the World Food Program, a US-based non-profit organization dedicated to building support for the World Food Program and other hunger relief efforts. And he is an Illinois family farmer who produces both corn and hogs.

RFA Press Conference John BlockOn Wednesday, Block shared his perspective on food prices and ethanol with the media at the National Press Club.

“The first point I would make is, yes, biofuels have had some impact on the price of food, we can’t deny that,” Block said. “But it’s pretty small, it’s hard to figure out exactly what it is.”

That’s because this is a very complicated issue, Block says, which includes factors such as increased demand for animal protein in developing countries, crops affected by weather, speculation in the futures markets, weakness of the dollar, and oil. “I dare say we would not even be standing up here right now if oil was $20 a barrel, but it’s not, it’s $120 and its likely to stay in that range and it puts us in a position we had not been in before,” he said.

With so many factors involved, Block says it’s unreasonable to give biofuels a majority of the blame for higher food prices, especially internationally. “Because we are not shorting the market on grain,” he said. “We are exporting more grain than we ever have in history.”

The positive side to this Block says is that higher prices equals investment and that equals more food. “Over time, with good prices for farm products, the world is going to produce more food products.”

“I believe that biofuels have an important place,” Block concluded. “All of this is home-grown, it makes jobs for us in the United States and its a clean fuel – those are good, positive things.”

Listen to Block’s comments here:

Ethanol Blender Pumps Gives Consumers Choices

A new partnership between the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) and the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council (SDCUC) is helping gas station retailers in South Dakota put in more ethanol blender pumps to let consumers with flex fuel vehicles have more options.

e-podcastThe edition of “Fill up, Feel Good” features comments from EPIC Director of Operations Robert White and SDCUC Executive Director Lisa Richardson about the new program, its goals, how it will work, and how it will benefit consumers.

The podcast is available to download by subscription (see our sidebar link) or you can listen to it by clicking here (5:00 MP3 File):

The Fill Up, Feel Good theme music is “Tribute to Joe Satriani” by Alan Renkl, thanks to the Podsafe Music Network.

“Fill up, Feel Good” is sponsored by the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council.

Ethanol Closer to Little Bo Peep

Is ethanol Little Bo Peep or the Ax Murderer?

RFA Press Conference Rick TolmanThat’s the question National Corn Growers CEO Rick Tolman presented to the media during a press conference in Washington DC on Wednesday, pointing to the front page article on ethanol and corn prices in the Washington Post as being the latest example of making ethanol out to be the ax murderer. “There’s a lot of misinformation, slanted information that is just inaccurate,” Tolman said. “While we do have some role in higher food prices in the corn industry, we are certainly closer to Little Bo Peep than the ax murderer.”

Tolman pointed out the importance of the US corn industry, the dramatic increases in yields and production and the fact that prices for petroleum products have a much greater impact on food prices than corn does.

“What do corn prices have to do with food riots in China and Pakistan and India over rice?” Tolman asked. “Absolutely nothing. There is no connection to rice production around the world with biofuels production in the United States. Absolutely none.”

Tolman blamed the disinformation in the media on a very clever marketing campaign by those with deep pockets. “If you want to know who the real ax murderer is slashing our grocery food budget, look at $4 a gallon gasoline, look at $120 a barrel oil,” Tolman said.

Listen to Tolman’s comments here:

Food Price Increase Facts – Updated

RFA Press ConferenceUpdated with recorded video

Hello from Washington, DC and the National Association of Farm Broadcasting annual Washington Watch program. I’m covering their conference on our sister site, AgWired. Today at 1pm eastern time, I’ll be attending a press conference at the National Press Club being hosted by the Renewable Fuels Association. In attendance will be:

The Honorable John Block, former Secretary of Agriculture
Tom Buis, President, National Farmers Union (NFU)
Bob Dinneen, President of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA)
Rick Tolman, CEO, National Corn Growers Association (NCGA

The topic will be: “Farmers and Ethanol Industry to Present the Facts On Food Price Increases.” This topic just won’t go away and it’s at least in part due to the immense amount of misinformation being spread in the media, most notably this week, the Washington Post with their irresponsible series called, Global Food Crisis.

I’m hoping to be able to stream the press conference live this afternoon and you’ll be able to watch it here with the following player. Basically, starting at 1pm or within a few moments of that, you should be able to click on the player and see the live stream. A lot depends on the internet connection I’ll have there. In any case, I’ll also be recording it to post on Domestic Fuel as well.

The live stream worked! Here is a recording of the first 20 minutes or so:

Here is some additional footage of today’s press conference:

Listen to the entire one hour plus press conference here:

You can see an online photo album from the press conference here: RFA Press Conference Photo Album

Getting To Know Toni

Ethanol Executive Director Toni NuernbergToni Nuernberg is the newest member of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council. She joined EPIC as the new executive director about 2 months ago, replacing Tom Slunecka after he accepted the offer to become the Vice President of Business Development for KL Process Design Group in South Dakota. We already heard from Toni during EPIC’s press conference on the “Food and Fuel” discussion. But, I took the opportunity to grab ZimmComm’s first one-on-one interview with Toni at the Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300.

You can hear what Toni has to say about joining EPIC and about recent criticism of ethanol here:

2008 Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300 Photo Album

Tiny Taste of Indy

Marina and Rebbecca BravoJust being able to snag a ticket to the race means a huge Indy experience for most racing fans. But, some race-goers are lucky enough to snag tickets for the Hot Lap, taking their Indy experience one step further. The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council holds a raffle for every member racing event. For the Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300 here in Kansas, EPIC sent 5 members and guests for a spin around the track.

Mike Sobetski with LifeLine Foods brought his brother Bob along for the pace car ride. Kurt Bravo with Midwest Ethanol gave his tickets to his mother and fiance, Marina and Rebecca. Each of them jumped at the chance to circle the track twice at over 100 mph. And, each of them said they would do again… in a heartbeat.

You can listen to Marina and Rebecca’s reactions here:

2008 Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300 Photo Album

Ryan Has High Hopes for “Home” Race

Team Ethanol Driver Ryan Hunter-ReayTeam Ethanol Driver Ryan Hunter-Reay knows that the ethanol industry started here, in the nation’s heartland. That’s why he fondly refers to the Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300 as a “home” race. He knows that the Midwest is where most of ethanol production begins. He said a high finish for today’s race at the Kansas Speedway would be a great start to the 2008 racing season. And, he says there’s no reason Team Ethanol can’t snag a great position… which he hopes will be a top 5 or even a top 3 finish.

You can listen to Ryan here:

2008 Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300 Photo Album