Argonne Scientists Blast EWG Corn Ethanol GHG Report

A recent Environmental Work Group corn ethanol greenhouse gas report has caused lifecycle analysis experts and economist from Argonne National Laboratory and three universities to lash out and what they call “erroneous conclusions”.

The experts isEWG report Ethanols broken promisesued a scathing 13-page response to EWG’s May report titled “Ethanol’s Broken Promise.” EWG “confused parameters” and “misunderstood” previous modeling results, according to experts from Argonne, North Carolina State University, Purdue University and University of Illinois-Chicago. “…based on an analysis of the methodology EWG used and a comparison of their results to those in the literature, from models, and from other data sets, EWG appears to have overestimated the amount of land converted for corn farming between 2008 and 2012. Second, EWG used emission factors that appear too high.”

More specifically, the experts found the following problems—among many others—with EWG’s report:

  • “EWG confused parameters in GREET with those in an economic model, the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP).”
  • “EWG misunderstood EPA’s GHG emissions for years 2012 and 2017.”
  • “In their report, EWG picked the EPA 2012 GHG emissions for corn ethanol and applied them to the EPA-proposed reduced volume for corn ethanol in 2014 to make the erroneous conclusion that the proposal resulted in 3 million tonnes of CO2 reduction in 2014.”
  • “…the emission factors they applied are high compared to those in other reports and studies that take into account important variations in initial and final land states.”
  • The satellite data set used by EWG is “…explicitly not designed to be used for pixel-by-pixel or localized analyses.”
  • The land use change data used by EWG is “…based on data that is decades old, reflecting wetland conversion over a much longer time horizon.”
  • The report “…overestimated wetland conversion, especially for the conversion of wetlands to corn farms.” Wetlands and grasslands conversion estimates are “…too high when compared with estimates in other studies and data sources.”

The authors also point out that EWG is stuck in the past when it comes to lifecycle analysis. They write, “Since 2009, when EPA conducted corn ethanol LUC GHG modeling…, significant efforts have been made to improve economic models and soil carbon models to better estimate biofuel LUC GHG emissions. EPA and other federal agencies should consider updating RFS LUC modeling so that up-to-date LUC results can be used for biofuel policy making.”

Don’t Miss the Innovators Panel at ACE’s Conference

The American Coalition for Ethanol’s (ACE) 27th annual Ethanol Conference is set for August 4-6, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the line-up of great speakers and sessions is already being unveiled. The Innovators Panel on August 5th will include: Ron Alverson from Dakota Ethanol; Ray Baker with Adkins Energy; Delayne Johnson with Quad County Corn Processors; and Mike Erhart with Prairie Horizon Agri-Energy.

Some of the topics panelists will cover include projects to add biodiesel or renewable diesel to existing ethanol plants, progress with conversion of corn kernel fiber to cellulosic biofuel, and steps to reduce the carbon footprint of ethanol.

“The people who make ethanol are always looking forward, they are never satisfied with the same old, same old. This panel discussion will be an outstanding example of the type of product and process technology innovations being developed by ACE members to create new revenue streams and improve efficiency,” said Brian Jennings, executive vice president of ACE.

Power_by_people_bannerThe ACE Conference will also feature a Retailer Roundtable, involving gas station owners who are making money and attracting new customers by selling higher blends of ethanol fuel. Other topics to be covered at the event include a discussion of the octane and high performance potential of ethanol in automobiles, a look at proposed regulations based upon the Food Safety Modernization Act, overseas opportunities for ethanol producers and an examination of rail regulations and possible long-term improvements of the domestic rail system.

Click here to register to attend the upcoming ACE Conference.

Green Plains Purchases Supreme Cattle Feeders

Green Plains (GPRE) has acquired the assets of Supreme Cattle feeders from Agri Beef Co. The deal includes the feed yard doing business as Supreme Cattle Feeders and the Cimarron Grain Storage facility located near Kismet, Kansas.

“Supreme Cattle Feeders is one of the premier cattle feed yards in the U.S. and this operation is an ideal adjacent business for Green Plains,” said Todd Becker, president and CEO. “The green_plainscustom cattle-feeding business gives us the ability to further process our distillers grains and corn oil, and extend our corn origination network. We also believe that this transaction will be accretive to 2014 earnings.”

Becker said Supreme Cattle Feeders will remain a custom cattle-feeding business -a great asset to their portfolio of value-added processing facilities. He notes that GPRE’s focus is to ensure that current customers continue to be served at the highest level. In addition, Becker said they plan on retaining all of the current employees at the facilities.

Robert Rebholtz, Jr., President/CEO of Agri Beef Co. said, “The key to our decision to sell Supreme Cattle Feeders was Green Plains’ financial strength, commitment to operational excellence and risk management capabilities. We are thrilled by the great opportunities this combination will provide Supreme’s long-time customers and employees. We look forward to continuing our own cattle-feeding relationship as a Green Plains customer for years to come.”

GPRE said Supreme Cattle Feeders will remain a custom cattle-feeding business and will continue to operate under its current name. Supreme Cattle Feeders financial results will be reported as a part of Green Plains’ agribusiness segment. The operation consists of approximately 2,600 acres of land with 800 acres allocated to the feedlot operation that has the capacity to support 70,000 head of cattle. Supreme’s current corn storage capacity, including the Cimarron Grain facilities, is approximately 3.8 million bushels. Supreme Cattle Feeders will continue to be directed by its current management team, with transition support from Agri Beef Co. Agri Beef Co will continue its relationship as a cattle-feeding customer of Supreme. Agri Beef Co. has owned and operated Supreme Cattle Feeders for the past 19 years.

Where do Iowa Candidates Stand on the RFS?

Americans United For Change want Iowans to know where their candidates for U.S. Senate stand: with Iowa farmers or Big Oil. The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), legislation that mandates the U.S. transportation sector blend 36 billion gallons of alternative fuels into our fuel by 2022. With more than 30,000 comments sent to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on their proposed 2014 required volume obligations, aka, how many gallons of biofuels will be blended into fuel in 2014, there has still been no word on the final 2014 rule out of D.C.

In Iowa, primary elections took place last week and newly nominated Republican Joni Ernst, who currently serves as an Iowa Legislator, has not taken a firm stand on the RFS. According to Americans United for Change, she claims to be pro-RFS but often in the same breath admits she is “philosophically opposed” to all subsidies and that she “want[s] people to choose products that work for them and not have them mandated by the United States government.”

Americans United for Change Des Moines Register pro-RFS adToday, Americans Unite for Change, in an effort to get a straight answer, has taken out a full page ad in the Des Moines Register and Cedar Rapids Gazette that asks the questions whether the tens of thousands of dollars Ernst’s campaign has already taken from the billionaire oilmen Koch Brothers is the reason why she is so hesitant to go to the mat for renewable fuels. The biofuels industry accounts for $5.5 billion of Iowa Gross Domestic Product (GDP, generates $4 billion of income for Iowa households, and supports 60,000 jobs throughout the state.

Jeremy Funk, Comm. Dir., Americans United for Change, said of the ad, “As the candidates from opposing parties interview to be the next Senator from Iowa, there are many issues like raising the minimum wage that will present a clear contrast for voters. The Renewable Fuel Standard should not be one of those issues in the state that leads the nation in renewable fuel production with 41 ethanol plants and 18 biodiesel plants.”

“And yet,” continued Funk, “Tea Party-favorite Joni Ernst is going out of her way to complicate the simple and flip-flopping all around the issue. Talking out both sides of the mouth is something we’ve come to expect from politicians, just not politicians from Iowa on the issue of supporting renewable fuels. A strong and clear voice of support for ethanol and biodiesel is needed now more than ever in Washington with Big Oil spending millions of dollars to try to put out of business their cheaper, cleaner competition so they can gouge consumers at the pump with impunity.”

But it seems the more money Joni Ernst’s campaign rakes in from big oil interests like the billionaire Koch Brothers, the weaker and murkier her position becomes.” Funk concluded, “You can tell a lot about how a politician would actually govern by the friends they keep.”

I-75 Green Corridor Project Adds 17 New Biofuel Stations

I-75 Corridor StationThe I-75 Green Corridor Project took a huge step forward this week with the addition of 17 new biofuel stations between Chattanooga, Tennessee all the way to southwestern Florida. This week marks the 5th year of the project that began in Knoxville, TN through a grant funded by the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program. The goal of the project is for drivers to traverse the entirety of I-75 running on biofuels including ethanol as E85 or biodiesel in a B20 blend. In all Interstate 75 is 1,786 miles from Canada to the Caribbean. The ultimate goal is to have an ethanol/biodiesel station no more than 200 miles apart.

Since the project’s inception, over 3.3 million gallons of biofuels have been sold from stations associated with the project, and 2.6 million gallons of petroleum have been displaced. The project has now displaced over 61,000 barrels of oil, or alternatively, the U.S. has now produced over 61,000 additional barrels of renewable, American fuel.

Specifically in Tennessee, five E85 stations are now open in Cleveland and Chattanooga and nearby neighborhoods of Wildwood and Ft. Oglethorpe and one station is set to open in Knoxville this summer. Jonathan Overly, executive director of the lead organization for the project, the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition, said, “We could not have had the development of this many stations or otherwise success we have had in the project without Protec as a partner. Steve (Walk, of Protec) was great to work with and helped us achieve the project goals.”

I-75 Clean Fuels CorridorThus far along the corridor, E85 has been installed at 26 fuel stations, and B20 has been installed at nine. These numbers are expected to increase in the coming months with another six stations coming online this summer. The project is now in its final year and has resulted in the 1,786-mile interstate becoming the planet’s longest biofuels corridor.

Protec was instrumental is helping the project come to fruition. The company specializes in stations conversions and fuel distribution. “We are honored to be a major partner, fuel station installer and fuel provider for this important project,” said Steve Walk, an executive director of Protec Fuel. “This project can prove biofuels are accessible, and hopefully turn new users onto renewable fuels.”

The significance of this project lies not only in the extensive length of American interstate involved, but also the six-state, multi-partner coordination that has taken place. There is also significance in the fact that American drivers now have a greater number of fueling options, as well as alt-fuel vehicles. There are nearly 100 flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) models on the market today than can run on E85. Coupled with the fact that, by conservative estimates, there are over 10 million FFVs on the road, there is strong need for more stations offering E85.

FEW Kicks off with Record Crowd

The 30th annual Fuel Ethanol Workshop (FEW) has official kicked off with a record-breaking number of ethanol producers from around the world attending. The attendees represent more than 500 producers from 194 facilities representing more than 15 billion gallons of ethanol produced per year. Producers represent traditional and advanced ethanol facilities from the U.S., Canada, Argentina, Norway and Hungary.

30th Annual FEWEthanol enthusiasts may note the significance of the 15 gallons of ethanol produced per year – the amount called for in the first-gen ethanol category of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). A hot topic for the past few months and sure to be a hot topic during FEW, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has yet to finalize the 2014 RFS rules and announced yesterday that they were delaying compliance for 2013 obligated parties until September 30, 2014.

The host of this year’s FEW is Indianapolis, Indiana. “The record level of ethanol producers at this year’s event has created an unprecedented opportunity for industry suppliers and supporters to network with ethanol producers and share their products or services,” said John Nelson, marketing director at BBI International. “We have 520 ethanol producers representing 194 ethanol production facilities already registered and we are expecting that number to grow.”

Drawing nearly 2,000 attendees, there will be at least 25 countries represented, 43 U.S. states represented and six Canadian provinces. During the course of the event, attendees will discuss issues categorized into four tracks:

  • Track 1: Production and Operations
  • Track 2: Leadership and Financial Management
  • Track 3: Coproducts and Product Diversification
  • Track 4: Cellulosic and Advanced Ethanol

DomesticFuel.com will be bringing you coverage of FEW throughout the week.

Increases In Ethanol Efficiences Will Decrease Land Use

A study done by researchers at the University of Illinois’ College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, has found that several factors will lower the need for land used to produced corn-based ethanol to as little as 11 percent of the corn acres by 2026 when adhering to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 15 billion gallon ceiling on domestic ethanol production.

The researchers note that a too common error made in reporting land used for domestic Disposition among major uses of no 2 yellow cornproduction is to measure the amount of grain shipped to ethanol manufacturers, compute the number of acres required to produce the grain and then end the analysis. However, the researchers say this is a gross oversimplification that leads to incorrectly concluding that 40 percent or more of U.S. corn acres are used for ethanol production. The real number, according to the research team is less than 25%. The reason is that most studies don’t account for the grain being used as high-value animal feed (distillers grains or DDGs).

The new study, conducted by Professors Rita H. Mumm, Peter D. Goldsmith, Kent D. Rausch and Hans H. Stein, explores the impact of technological improvements on corn grain production, ethanol production, and their interrelated effect on land use through a variety of scenarios over a 15 year period beginning in 2011, the year used to establish the base case. The researchers found that land area attributed to corn ethanol will consistently drop because plant breeding improvements and new technologies will result in significantly higher yields.

In addition, over the next decade, corn yields will improve significantly which will greatly reduce land use attributed to ethanol manufacturing. On the higher end of the spectrum, the study finds yields will increase by almost 100 bushels per acre, which represents 66 percent growth. The majority of this contribution will come from conventional breeding, with advanced breeding technology, biotechnology and agronomic improvements together contributing almost half.

“It’s no surprise to the agriculture industry that yield improvements will drive down land used for ethanol,” said Dr. Rita Mumm, coauthor of the study. “However, the mechanisms within the production complex, especially their effects on one another, were not fully understood. This work provides a clear picture on current land use and provides an approach for evaluating future land use.” Continue reading

Edeniq’s PATHWAY Validation Facility Shows Success

Leading into the Fuel Ethanol Workshop that is taking place this week in Indianapolis, Indiana (June 9-12) Edeniq, Inc., has announced the successful performance of its PATHWAY Validation Facility. The company’s PATHWAY Platform is a proprietary, integrated platform that produces cellulosic ethanol inside existing corn ethanol plants. Edeniq said their pilot facility showcases how their patented technologies, the Cellunator and PATHWAY Platform, work together to convert starch and break down corn kernel fiber, releasing cellulosic sugars into the fermentation process. The result is an ethanol yield increase ethanol of three to six percent. The pilot facility is located at the company’s headquarters in Visalia, California.

“The pilot facility confirms a necessary high-precision consistency in the PATHWAY Platform that is a first for our industry,” said Tom Griffin, chief technology officer, Edeniq, Inc. “Our customers are looking for a way to generate and validate cellulosic ethanol production, and with Edeniq’s PATHWAY Platform coupled with this unique pilot facility, we have equipped them with the solution.”

Edeniq facility at nightFunded jointly by Flint Hills Resources Renewables, LLC, and Edeniq, the pilot facility showcases the PATHWAY Platform and allows ethanol producers to quantify the impact of PATHWAY on yield enhancement and cellulosic ethanol production at their plants.

“The PATHWAY Validation Facility was developed to provide our customers and partners with data to verify the increase in ethanol yield the technology provides,” added Brian Thome, president and CEO of Edeniq, Inc. “Edeniq is committed to increasing the bottom line for our customers and partners by allowing ethanol producers to improve their efficiency and migrate to cellulosic ethanol.”

The PATHWAY Platform is currently in commercial testing and continues to demonstrate its ability to increase ethanol yield and boost customer profits.

Best Way to Curb Harmful Emissions? Restore the RFS.

The renewable fuels industry has not weighed in much on the debate surrounding the recent unveiling of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulation: Clean Power Plan. The proposed mandate, that is now open for comment, would reduce power plant emissions by 30 percent by 2030 using 2005 levels. According to Brian Jennings, executive vice president for the American ACElogoCoalition for Ethanol (ACE), while acknowledging the ambitions rule to limit GHG emissions from power plants, it must be noted that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has been successfully reducing GHG emissions from the transportation sector since 2007 when the legislation was enacted.

Jennings said that in 2013 alone, the use of biofuels cut 38 million metric tons of GHG emissions from the transportation sector – the equivalent of the emissions from removing 8 million cars on the road or permanently parking every motor vehicle in Florida. “In other words, the RFS is the strongest and most successful law ever enacted to reduce dangerous GHG emissions from transportation fuels,” said Jennings.

“If the Administration is serious about using the Clean Air Act to implement a broad-based effort to reduce GHGs across various sectors, the best and most important way to do that is to ensure that the RFS works as intended to drive higher usage of renewable fuels versus how EPA has proposed to reduce the RFS for 2014,” continued Jennings. “EPA’s current RFS proposal sets a dangerous precedent by letting oil companies off the hook when it comes to compliance with Clean Air Act GHG standards for transportation fuel. If the Administration expects power plants to comply with this new proposal by curbing their emissions, how can it let oil companies shirk responsibility for complying with the Clean Air Act RFS provision by refusing to allow consumer access to higher blends of ethanol?”

Navy, Arizona State Work Together on Algae Biofuels

mcginn at asu1The U.S. Navy is working with Arizona State University to develop biofuels from algae. This article from the school says Dennis McGinn, U.S. Navy Assistant Secretary for Energy, Installations and Environment, visited the school’s Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI) to discuss how the Navy and civilian industry have some key overlapping issues, such as cost, sustainability, efficiency and energy security, and how the Navy wants to work with research institutions and industry to solve these problems for everyone.

“We are thinking about energy in three different ways: first in technology terms; biofuels, wind and solar energy storage, power grid systems and more,” McGinn said during a visit to Arizona State University. “But it takes two other critical elements to achieve our energy goals: partnerships and culture. This is why we’re interested in forging and strengthening relationships with outstanding organizations like ASU.”

While the Department of the Navy broadly funds energy research, another key aspect is its considerable influence in setting purchasing standards for their operations. The Navy is using its authority under the Defense Production Act, which allows the Navy, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to invest in industries that are determined critical to national security; in this case, biofuels. McGinn said that the Navy has already invested millions in projects with the DOE and USDA in order to bring down the cost of producing biofuel.

“The Navy wants to buy anywhere between 10 and 50 percent biofuel blends for our ships,” he said. “We want it to be a cost-competitive program. We are working specifically with the USDA to bring down biofuel costs to $3.50 a gallon or less at the commercial scale of 170 million gallons a year by 2016.”

McGinn went on to say that algae biofuels show great potential as an alternative transportation fuel for the nation’s fleets because of their sustainability and scalability.

Honor Troops with Renewable Energy

arlington1Today is a day when the nation pauses to remember those who have given their all to keep this country free. This opinion piece in the News & Observer from North Carolina features the words of Lt. Gen. Richard Zilmer, who retired from the U.S. Marine Corps after 36 years and says if we want to truly honor vets and those who died in wars, do what we can to cut down on the amount of fuel convoys on the battlefield and the amount of fossil fuels consumed at home.

In recent conflicts, fuel convoys have been among our enemies’ favorite targets. Transporting fuel to bases and troops in war zones has become an especially dangerous job.

As a commander in Iraq, I witnessed firsthand the toll in casualties imposed by our battlefield dependence on oil. And with other members of the CNA’s Military Advisory Board, a panel of retired three- and four-star generals and admirals, I have studied the intersection of energy and national security on a wider scale.

CNA’s Military Advisory Board has found that America’s over-dependence on fossil fuels makes us vulnerable on the battlefield. It is a national security threat – economically, militarily and diplomatically. Our oil dependence weakens us, constraining our options for action on the world stage and causing us to send money to regimes whose interests don’t always dovetail with ours.

There are also financial penalties attached to our armed forces’ dependence on fossil fuels. Every $10 increase in the price of a barrel of oil means a $1.3 billion increase in operating costs for the Pentagon. And the military allocates a tremendous amount of resources to ensuring the freedom of movement of oil shipments – an estimated $8 trillion protecting oil cargoes in the Persian Gulf since 1976, a 2010 study found.

The general goes on to point out that if troops on the battlefields are finding ways of using more renewable energy, then the folks back home should be able to do the same.

If our men and women in uniform can incorporate efficiency and renewable energy into their dangerous jobs, surely the rest of us can do our part on the homefront.

Transportation Biofuels to Hit Nearly $338 Bil by 2022

biofuelsfortransBiodiesel and ethanol for vehicles is expected to hit nearly $338 billion in sales by 2022. A new report from Navigant Research expects that over the next 8 years, biofuels for road transportation will more than double, growing from $166.5 billion annually in 2014 to $337.8 billion worldwide, making up 7.5 percent of liquid fuels consumed in the sector by 2022.

“Over the last 10 years, growth in the biofuels sector has been driven by the increase in ethanol production capacity in the United States and Brazil, and in biodiesel in Europe,” says Scott Shepard, research analyst with Navigant Research. “Today, the industry is on the verge of entering a new phase of development focused on advanced and drop-in biofuels.”

Commercial-scale production of cellulosic feedstock biofuels is just getting underway, according to the report, and recent developments in drop-in biofuels propelled by the aviation industry and the U.S. Department of Defense are driving down the costs of these advanced biofuels, enabling commercial-scale drop-in biofuels production. Meanwhile, large oil-consuming nations concerned about energy security, climate change, and economic stagnation are driving global biofuels markets through a number of policy platforms, principally biofuels mandates.

The report, “Biofuels for Transportation Markets,” looks at what emerging markets will bring for biodiesel and ethanol, as well as future growth opportunities for biofuels. Vehicle sales, as well as technologies in producing the fuels, are also examined.

Ethanol Groups Participate in China Trade Mission

RFANewlogoU.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse led a mission to promote U.S. agricultural exports in northeast China May 5-13. The mission is part of President Obama’s “Made in Rural America” export and investment initiative, designed to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new customers and markets abroad.

growth-energy-logoTaking part in the mission to promote U.S. biofuels and co-product exports was Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Director of Regulatory Affairs Kelly Davis and Jim Miller with Growth Energy.

During a press conference Tuesday to talk about the trade mission, Davis said it was her first trip to China and she was astounded by the number of cars on the roads and sees a great need for both biofuels and distillers grains for livestock feed in that country. Miller added that China provides an excellent market opportunity for the U.S. ethanol industry.

Also taking part in the trip and the press conference was Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmer’s Union. Ethanol Press Conference Opening Remarks

Asia Key for Ethanol Producer Aemetis’ Profits

aemetislogo1A California-based ethanol producer is reporting a big turnaround in profits, thanks to its business in Asia. Aemetis, Inc., the largest U.S.-owned biofuels producer in Asia, reports a $7.7 million net profit for the first quarter of this year… quite an improvement from a nearly $10 Million net loss from the same quarter a year ago.

“We’re very pleased with our record financial and operational performance in the first quarter,” said Eric McAfee, Chairman and CEO of Aemetis, Inc. “These results build upon the very strong results we posted in Q4 of 2013, and with available capacity and attractive international markets for our India products, the company is well positioned for additional growth in the remainder of 2014,” added McAfee.

Financial Results for the Three Months Ended March 31, 2014
Revenues were a record $60.7 million for the first quarter of 2014, compared to $19.4 million for the first quarter of 2013. Gross profit was a record $15.6 million for the first quarter of 2014, compared to a gross profit of $0.2 million in the first quarter of 2013. The increases in revenues and gross profit were primarily attributable to a full quarter of operations during the period from January 1, 2014 through March 31, 2014 as compared to the period from January 15, 2013 through March 31, 2013 when the Keyes plant was idle.

Aemetis also set a record with its adjusted EBITDA for the first quarter of 2014 at $14.2 million.

Iowa Gov Says Biofuels Cure for Climate Change

IA Gov Branstad at Hearing in the Heartland Jan 23 2013As members of a federal task force visit Iowa and say that “climate change is here and now,” that state’s governor says biofuels, which are also here and now, are at least one way to fight the changes in climate. This article in the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier says this is the third meeting of the White House task force and comes on the heels of the recent Obama Administration’s National Climate Assessment that says climate change could bring disastrous results for agricultural areas, such as Iowa, “including prolonged periods of heat, heavy downpours, and in some regions, floods and droughts.” Branstad makes the case that if the government followed the law on the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), many of these issues would be dealt with.

“Climate change is here and now,” said Mike Boots, acting chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

He ran down a list of some of the effects of climate change being experienced in the Midwest, such as poorer crop yields because of heat and torrential rains that overfill river banks and wash away topsoil.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad did not attend the event as he was traveling the state for a series of community tours, Branstad spokesman Jimmy Centers wrote in an e-mail.

“Gov. Branstad believes that as government officials travel to Des Moines they should focus on reducing transportation emissions and our dependence on overseas oil, diversifying our nation’s energy portfolio and supporting the growth of the Midwest economy through a strengthened Renewable Fuel Standard,” Centers wrote.

White House officials say the RFS was not discussed during the symposium. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommended reducing the amount of ethanol and biodiesel to be mixed into the Nation’s fuel supply. Farm-state governors, such as Branstad, have blasted the agency for that recommendation and hope to get it reversed before it is due to be finalized within about a month.