DF Cast: Finding Ways to Increase Ethanol Blends

While the ethanol industry awaits the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision on the amount of ethanol to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply, ethanol producers are looking at other ways to make sure the green fuel increases its blend amounts.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we hear from Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, Dean Drake with the consulting company the Defour Group, Scott Zaremba, president of Zarco Incorporated, and Ken Parrent, the ethanol director for the Indiana Corn Marketing Council, as they give their thoughts on how consumer demand will be a bigger driver for higher ethanol blends after attending an Indiana Corn Growers Association ethanol forum that focused on marketing mid-level ethanol blends and ran following the recent 2014 Fuel Ethanol Workshop in Indianapolis.

Domestic Fuel Cast - Increasing Ethanol Blends

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DF Cast: Senators, Industry Push EPA on Biofuels

Time is ticking down for the Environmental Protection Agency to make a decision on how much renewable fuel will be mixed into the nation’s fuel supply, and ethanol and biodiesel groups are pressing for a change to what’s being proposed.

On the biodiesel side, nearly 120 companies have just sent the White House a letter trying to reverse the proposed 1.28 billion gallons of biodiesel to be blended… a move in the wrong direction from the 1.8 billion gallons produced just last year. The letter adds to a chorus of dissent on the agency’s proposal coming from areas such as the Midwest where renewable fuels are made and from usually staunch Obama Administration backers on Capitol Hill.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we hear from U.S. Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Al Franken (D-MN), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), as they express their frustration with the EPA proposal… and what can be done to fix this.

Domestic Fuel Cast - Sens., Industry Push EPA on Biofuels

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DF Cast: Fuels America Fights Back with “Oil Rigged”

Backers of renewable fuels say when it comes to the fight against Big Oil, the fight is rigged… oil rigged.

Recently, Fuels America held a pair of news conferences. The first was to announce the launch of its “Oil Rigged” television and digital ad campaign and OilRigged.com, designed to “expose the many ways the oil industry is rigging the system to protect their profits and block the transition to clean, American renewable fuels.” In addition, Fuels America is backing up its claims with more than just talk, unveiling a new survey showing how renewable fuels have added significantly to the country’s economy, especially in rural areas.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we hear from Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president Bob Dinneen, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Executive Vice President Brent Erickson, and Jon Doggett with the National Corn Growers Association, talking about how they want to rig the debate back to the facts.

Listen to what they had to say after they listened to ACE: Domestic Fuel Cast - Oil Rigged

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DF Cast: Lawmakers Listening to Ethanol Advocates

Ethanol backers got their voices heard during the recent American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Biofuels Beltway March in Washington, D.C. And at least some lawmakers were listening.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we talk to Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE), and Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who met with ACE and its supporters and all expressed their backing of efforts to keep renewable fuels, especially ethanol, in the forefront of federal policies.

Listen to what they had to say after they listened to ACE: Domestic Fuel Cast - Lawmakers Meet with Ethanol Advocates

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2014 ACE Biofuels Beltway March photo album

Coverage is sponsored in part by Patriot Renewable Fuels

DF Cast: Hearing in the Heartland Talks EPA & RFS

Unable to get the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to come to the heart of where biodiesel and ethanol are produced, leaders in the Midwest decided to hold their own “field hearing” to let the Obama Administration know they are unhappy with what proposed cuts to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The comment period for this proposal has recently ended, but now comes the possible months-long decision process by the EPA.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we listen in on some of what was said at Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad’s “Hearing in the Heartland,” a gathering of politicians, biodiesel and ethanol advocates, energy experts, and those who will be affected if this proposal to cut the amount of ethanol and biodiesel to be blended into the Nation’s fuel supply comes to fruition.

You can hear more of what was said during the hearing in the Heartland it in the latest Domestic Fuel Cast: Domestic Fuel Cast - Hearing in the Heartland

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DF Cast: EPA Proposal More Than Just Numbers

We’ve heard a lot of the national numbers in the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to cut the amount of ethanol and biodiesel going into the country’s fuel supply… cellulosic biofuels at 17 million gallons, biomass-based diesel at 1.28 billion gallons, advanced biofuels at 2.20 billion gallons and renewable fuels at 15.21 billion. But outside of all these national numbers is the impact it will have on the small rural communities that have finally come out of economic depressions to host these biofuels operations, through direct jobs at the refineries and the boost to the farmers and their locally grown crops that serve as feedstocks for biodiesel and ethanol.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we speak with several people who are already seeing the impacts that just this proposal is presenting, including Iowa Governor Terry Branstad; Mark Beemer with Aventine REI; President and CEO of ethanol producer East Kansas Agri-Energy Jeff Oestmann; and Rick Schwarck, who serves as the president of Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and Absolute Energy, an ethanol producer on the Iowa-Minnesota border.

It’s a perspective of where the rubber meets the road, and you can hear more of it in the latest Domestic Fuel Cast: Domestic Fuel Cast - EPA Proposal More Than Just Numbers

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DF Cast: Is EPA Overstepping RFS Authority?

A leaked document from the Environmental Protection Agency regarding the Renewable Fuels Standard is causing some real consternation among advocates for ethanol. While it’s just a draft and has not even been officially released, there is already plenty of debate over the possible proposal, including whether the EPA is overstepping its authority granted under the RFS.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we speak with law and policy professor at the University of Illinois Jonathan Coppess, who says if the leaked numbers are true, EPA COULD be overstepping its bounds, as he outlines in a recent analysis. In addition, Coppess says ethanol advocates could actually get some help in a potential lawsuit over these RFS cuts, ironically enough, from a decision this fall that came in favor of the American Petroleum Institute. And Coppess also says there could be implications for other government policies, including the current farm bill under debate.

It’s a fascinating conversation, and you can hear more of it in the latest Domestic Fuel Cast: Domestic Fuel Cast - Jonathan Coppess, University of Illinois

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DF Cast: A More Reliable Solar Investment Way

Investing in renewable energy, particularly solar, hasn’t always been an easy proposition. The biggest stumbling block is the way you have to invest in a company and all the baggage that comes with that company. But Oakland, Calif.-based Mosaic, America’s first online marketplace to offer solar investments to the public, believes there’s a better way, allowing investors to invest in projects instead of the whole company.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we talk with Katie Ullman with Mosaic, who explains their platform is changing the way solar, and other renewable, investments are considered. She explains how their team works to find the right investments, weeding out the vast majority of the ones considered to minimize the risks for investors and maximizing the chances for success.

Listen to more of the conversation in this Domestic Fuel Cast: Domestic Fuel Cast - Katie Ullman, Mosaic

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DF Cast: Ethanol Battles for Info & Against the Gov’t

Understanding what the auto industry wants and needs… and how ethanol can meet that… all while battling Big Oil and even the government… that’s the daunting task the ethanol industry has been facing for some time.

ACE13-uniteandignite-vandergriendIn this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we talk with Dave Vander Griend, the co-founder and president of one of the world’s largest ethanol plant engineering and construction firms, ICM. He talks about how first the ethanol industry needed to identify what the auto industry needed and then what the refineries were producing, a first on both counts for the ethanol industry. He says once his industry was able to see what the car makers wanted, it was easier to figure out how to counter some of the arguments Big Oil has been making against ethanol.

Meanwhile, the Urban Air Initiative, a group that looks to reduce the threat to public health posed by petroleum-based fuels, issued a white paper, dispelling Big Oil’s myths and countering what the group characterizes as an erroneous report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would hurt ethanol.

It’s a fascinating conversation, and you can hear more of it in this Domestic Fuel Cast: Domestic Fuel Cast - Dave Vander Griend, ICM and Urban Air Initiative

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DF Cast: Agencies Work Together on Biofuels Targets

On August 6, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its final rule for the 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) based on analysis provided by, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which revised downward its cellulosic biofuel forecast for 2013 to 4 million gallons (or 6 million ethanol-equivalent gallons) target for cellulosic biofuels use in 2013, less than half what was proposed just six months ago… and well below the 1 billion gallon target specified in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

But how did the EIA come up with its numbers, which ended up being part of the basis for what the EPA projected in its 2013 RFS final rule? In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we talk with Mindi Farber-DeAnda, Team Lead, Biofuels and Emerging Technologies, Office of Petroleum, Natural Gas, and Biofuels Analysis at EIA, who explains how the two agencies work together.

Hear more of the conversation here: Domestic Fuel Cast - EIA & EPA Work Together on Biofuels Targets

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DF Cast: Geothermal Potential Just Below Surface

Geothermal energy is seen as one of the cleanest and most efficient in the world, ranking right up there with the likes of wind energy. But growth in the energy source has been slow but steady.

KarlGawell1In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we hear from Executive Director of the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) Karl Gawell who believes the trend away from coal-fired plants and toward other renewable energy sources could see things pick up for geothermal. He says geothermal’s steady supply is the perfect complement to wind and solar energy plants that might have intermittent gaps that geothermal can easily and quickly fill.

GEAMGM1In addition, he talks about the GEA’s Geothermal Energy Expo 2013, September 29-October 2 at the MGM Grand Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas. He says with the growing international market in geothermal hotspots, this gathering is the perfect opportunity to meet with people with geothermal interests around the world. Registration is available here. And you can find out more about geothermal energy at his group’s website, www.geo-energy.org.

Hear more of the conversation here: Domestic Fuel Cast - Geothermal's Potential

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DF Cast: Algae Backers’ Beef with DOE

Backers of algae, especially for biofuel production, say while the Department of Energy provides millions for universities to do research through the DOE Biomass Program, commercial enterprises are being left by the wayside. And they say that isn’t fair, and after 60 years of looking at the green microbes, researchers have developed nothing.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we talk with Barry Cohen, the Executive Director at the National Algae Association, about how the commercial side of his industry is getting shut out, and he argues if they had just 10 percent of the money that universities get, we would have a commercialized algae-based biofuel within a year.

It’s a pretty interesting conversation, and you can listen to it here: Domestic Fuel Cast - Algae's Beef with DOE

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DF Cast: Creating, Not Extracting, Sugars for Biofuels

One of the big issues that continues to dog the biofuels business, especially ethanol production, is the use of food crops as fuel sources. While many have made the case that the crops can provide both food AND fuel (consider the dried distillers grains from ethanol production, for example), a New Jersey-based company thinks it has a way to remove the food part from the debate altogether.

Proterro CEO Kef Kasdin1In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we talk to Kef Kasdin, CEO of Proterro, as she tells us about her company’s method of actually creating, not extracting, sugars. You’ll be able to hear how this process makes sugar for as low as 5 cents/pound… a pretty good bargain compared to 10-20 cents/pound of more conventional methods.

You can listen to the Domestic Fuel Cast here: Domestic Fuel Cast - Proterro Creating Sugars for Biofuels

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And you can check out the video below to get a better explanation of how the process Kasdin describes works.

DF Cast: Oil Vs. Biofuels – Can’t We All Just Get Along?

It seems like they’re natural enemies – biofuels producers, particularly biodiesel and ethanol, versus Big Oil, as each competes for a place in the gas tanks of vehicles in America and around the world. But does there really need to be such enmity between the two, with biofuels producers accusing oil companies of trying to derail increased ethanol and biodiesel levels in transportation fuels and Big Oil saying don’t blame us?

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, listen as we talk to stakeholders on both sides of the game, as well as those who point out that everyone is in the same game: providing energy.

You can listen to the Domestic Fuel Cast here: Domestic Fuel Cast - Oil Vs. Biofuels - Can't We All Just Get Along?

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DF Cast: Countering RIN-sanity

There’s been a lot of talk about the prices for Renewable Identification Numbers … better known as RINs … especially from Big Oil trying to blame RINs for the rise in gasoline prices.

But in this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, Ron Lamberty, Senior Vice President with the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) and Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President for ACE, explain what RINs are and what they do … as well as dispelling some of the myths that have created what they call RIN-sanity.

You can listen to the Domestic Fuel Cast here: Domestic Fuel Cast - Countering RIN-sanity

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View the ACE Biofuels Beltway March 2013 Photo Album.