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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In 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.
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.
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.
In 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.
In 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.
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.
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.
In 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.
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.
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.
When you think of Las Vegas, you probably picture the bright lights, wild nightlife and gambling… probably not a home for environmentally friendly biodiesel innovation. But if you think about it, the gambling aspect really came out for a group that was an early adopter of the green fuel.
In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we talk to Russell Teall, President and Founder of Biodico; Gary H. Weinberg, who was with Haycock Petroleum and is now with Western Sierra Services; Frank Giordana, a transportation director with the Clark County School District; and James Morwood, Fleet Services Manager Support Services at the Las Vegas Valley Water District. These biodiesel pioneers gambled big on biodiesel and are now part of the group recognized with the Eye on Biodiesel: Inspiration award during the 10th Annual National Biodiesel Conference and Expo. Listen to their story about how they overcame their own doubts about the green fuel and how all of what we’re now calling BioVegas came up big winners.
Probably no one in the country was more pleased to see the renewal of the wind energy production tax credit than the folks in Iowa, a place that has become a real leader nationwide in wind energy. During the recent Iowa Wind Energy Day, officials and advocates for wind energy expressed their appreciation for the extension… and the hope that it could become more permanent to give more stability to the green industry.
In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we hear from Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, President of the Board for the Iowa Wind Energy Association Kathy Law and Executive Director of Iowa Wind Energy Association Harold Prior as they talk about what wind power has meant to their state and what potential it holds for the entire country… especially the rural areas.
We’ve known for quite a while that biodiesel is helping the bottom lines of feedstock producers, in particular, the nation’s soybean growers. But a new study from the National Biodiesel Board says livestock producers are also sticking more green in their pockets thanks to the green fuel.
In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we hear from the NBB’s senior advisor for economic issues, Alan Weber, and NBB member and Nebraska farmer and livestock producer Greg Anderson, who explain the bottom line results from a new study.
It’s less than a week before election day, and President Barack Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney are vying for every vote they can, including those people interested in energy issues in this country.
In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we hear from Obama and Romney as they made their pitches about their domestic energy policies during the debates they held in October. A little talk about wind… a little talk about biofuels (with just one small utterance of the word ethanol)… and a LOT to say about petroleum and coal. It’s for you to hear and make your decision… and for all of us to see what talk actually becomes action once the shouting is all over.