Renewable Fuels Research Center Dedicted to Sen. Lugar

Dick LugarA newly created renewable energy center at IUPUI has been named after Indiana Senator Richard Lugar.

In a press release, IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz said the campus wanted to name the center for Indiana’s senior United States Senator because of Lugar’s steadfast leadership on renewable energy issues.

“Developments at the federal level underscore the growing awareness that renewable energy will play a leading role in ensuring U.S. energy independence,” Bantz said. “The creation of the Richard G. Lugar Renewable Energy Center is a direct response to that recognition. Senator Lugar’s strong support for renewable energy research has had an immeasurable influence on our nation’s collective thinking about the need for energy security.”

During dedication ceremonies on Monday, Senator Lugar had some strong words for critics of ethanol, according to Indiana’s Hoosier Ag Today radio network.

“Eighty percent of the world’s oil supply is controlled by governments. Oil companies and the forces of supply and demand do not determine the price of oil.” He said this situation poses a security threat for the United States, “We need to understand that we are talking about the ability of our country to continue on in the lifestyle to which we are accustomed.”

Historical Perspective on Feed Prices

Tufts UniversityA new study by the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University in Maryland offers some interesting perspective on the issue of feed prices. In the report “Industrial Livestock Companies’ Gains from Low Feed Prices, (1997-2005)” the authors state that, “With rising demand for corn-based ethanol, representatives of many of the nation’s leading meat companies have expressed concern over the rising price of animal feed, which has increased significantly with the price increases for its two principal components, corn and soybeans.”

Tufts UniversityFeed prices have indeed increased significantly. As feed costs generally account for more than half of operating costs for industrial operations, higher prices can have an important impact on the bottom line for these companies. So too can low prices. Any discussion of today’s high prices should take into account the extent to which these same firms have benefited from many years of feed that was priced well below what it cost to produce. In the nine years that followed the passage of the 1996 Farm Bill, 1997-2005, corn was priced 23% below average production costs, while soybean prices were 15% below farmers’ costs. As a result, feed prices were an estimated 21% below production costs for poultry and 26% below costs for the hog industry. We estimate cumulative savings to the broiler chicken industry from below-cost feed in those years to be $11.25 billion, while industrial hog operations saved an estimated $8.5 billion. The leading firms gained a great deal during those years from U.S. agricultural policies that helped lower the prices for many agricultural commodities.

Florida Needs Ethanol

Ethanol BannerAn aerial promotion campaign for ethanol in the Sunshine State took off this past weekend over the racetrack at Sebring, the theme parks in Orlando and the beaches of Fort Meyers.

The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council will be flying this banner over cities from Miami to Jacksonville in the next few weeks to get the message out that Florida Needs Ethanol.

According to EPIC, ethanol is currently blended in 46% of our nation’s fuel supply with the majority of the fuel blended with 10% ethanol. But in many major cities, such as Tampa, consumers currently do not have access to purchase even a 10 percent ethanol blend, although it can be used in any of today’s cars.

“Ethanol’s performance and environmental benefits resonate with consumers,” said Reece Nanfito, EPIC’s senior director of marketing. “It may take time, but ethanol-enriched fuels need to be a part of Florida’s energy future.”

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Charles Bronson agrees. “As we develop cellulosic technology in Florida, I think that’s what we are going to be the most well-known for,” said Bronson. “We working with the University of Florida to find out which crops will be most beneficial to produce ethanol.”

Bronson is working to get the Florida Legislature to fund more incentives for biofuels production and research in Florida. He also sees a bright future for biodiesel production in the state. “Research I have seen on blue-green algae says that may be the very one that’s going to take over biodiesel because you can make so much diesel out of that blue green algae and we can grow a lot of that in Florida. So I think we are going to lead the nation in that.”

Listen to an interview with Commissioner Bronson from Katherine Bush with Southeast Agnet. Listen to MP3 File Charles Bronson (2 min MP3)

Major Ethanol Campaign Kickoff

E LogoThe Ethanol Promotion and Information Council has set in motion a major media campaign to promote ethanol nationwide, as well as a push for ethanol in Florida.

Two :30 second ethanol commercials debuted Friday on ESPN, ESPN2, ABC, SPEED TV, CBS and NBC.

The commercials aired during ESPN2’s one-hour “2007 IndyCar Series Season Preview” to highlight the March 24 season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The two spots – Choose Ethanol and Parallel- booth draw attention to the use of ethanol in high performance vehicles like the IndyCar Series and encourage consumers to choose ethanol at the pump. They can be viewed here on the EPIC website.

Meanwhile, as ethanol debuts as part of the American Le Mans Series this weekend at the 12 Hours of Sebring Race in Florida, EPIC has begun a major push to increase ethanol availability in the Sunshine State.

The Omaha-based consumer marketing arm of the ethanol industry has launched an aerial advertising campaign throughout the state with the message, “Florida Needs Ethanol,” and directing consumers to their website www.floridaneedsethanol.com.

The website provides useful information about the performance and environmental benefits of the renewable fuel, as well as ways in which consumers can join the movement to make ethanol more widely available in the state.

“Florida has one of the nation’s fastest growing populations,” said Reece Nanfito, the senior director of marketing for EPIC. “The demand for fuel will obviously continue to grow in the state, so it is critical that Floridians have the opportunity to make a choice at the pump for a more stable, environmentally-friendly energy future.”

“Field of Dreams” Ethanol Plant Breaks Ground

US Bio 1US BioEnergy broke ground Friday on US Bio Dyersville, a 100 million gallon per year ethanol biorefinery in Dyersville, Iowa.

“We are happy to be a member of the Dyersville community and believe in the power of the American farmer,” stated Gordon Ommen, US BioEnergy’s CEO and president. “The construction of this plant is another step in decreasing our country’s dependence on foreign resources and revitalizing the American Heartland.”

Dyersville is where the movie “Field of Dreams” was filmed, which Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen says is very appropriate.

US Bio 3“It is fitting that the home of the ‘Field of Dreams’ is now going to be home to a state-of-the-art ethanol biorefinery. Across Iowa and around the country, farmers and rural communities are thriving because of tremendous economic opportunities ethanol production is creating. Whether its fields of corn today or fields of corn and switchgrass tomorrow, ethanol is helping turn rural America into a real life field of dreams.”

Among those on hand to celebrate with US BioEnergy were Ron Fagen, President and CEO of Fagen Inc.; Dyersville Mayor Jim Heavens; Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President of American Coalition for Ethanol; and · Dave Schroeder, President of Dyersville Industrial Development.

Ethanol Branding Makes Progress

e-podcastBeing able to identify ethanol at the pump nationwide can help consumers “fill up and feel good” no matter where they are.

That’s the goal of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council’s “e” branding program, which already has seven states on board in just a few months. This edition of “Fill up, Feel Good” talks about the progress, the program’s goals and how it is being implemented. The podcast includes comments from EPIC’s Robert White and Mark Lambert of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board.

The “Fill up, Feel Good” podcast is available to download by subscription (see our sidebar link) or you can listen to it by clicking here. (6:00 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 Campaigning

McCain BusAccording to the Washington Post, John McCain had only been in Iowa long enough Thursday to make one ethanol joke – “I have a glass of ethanol every morning for breakfast” — when word went out that he was already leaving.

Turns out that the presidential candidate ended up staying after all, skipping a procedural vote in DC on the Iraq war. On the campaign trail, McCain has apparently decided to try and make up for ignoring Iowa in his race seven years ago when he was vocal in his opposition to ethanol subsidies.

Now the candidate is reportedly supporting ethanol, at least with words, if not actions. According to an article on Seeking Alpha analyzing McCain’s position on ethanol, blogger Konrad Imielinski notes that the candidate maintained a consistent “anti-ethanol demeanor through 2005 as documented by his voting record” which includes voting against the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Environmental Effects Caused by Ethanol Amendment and the Energy Omnibus Bill.

McCain then changed his position completely in 2006. When giving a speech in Iowa, the same state which he publicly stated his skepticism in 2000, he said “I support ethanol and I think it is vital, a vital alternative energy source not only because of our dependency on foreign oil but its greenhouse gas reduction effects.”

HillaryMcCain isn’t the only candidate to have an “ethanol conversion” experience, as the Washington Post calls it.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) experienced one in May of last year. Long opposed to federal support for the corn-based biofuel, she reversed herself and endorsed even bigger ethanol incentives than she previously voted against. Now running for president, Clinton is promoting a $50 billion strategic energy fund, laden with more ethanol perks.

Seeking Alpha’s Imielinski also analyzes Clinton’s ethanol position noting that she voted a total of 17 times against measures promoting ethanol production. Senator Clinton even stated in 2002 that “there is no sound public policy reason for mandating the use of ethanol” but now has shaped herself as a prominent advocate of ethanol.

Aventine Branches into Biodiesel

Aventine Ethanol producer, marketer and distributor Aventine Renewable Energy has entered the biodiesel business.

According to a company release, Aventine is setting up a marketing program for biodiesel similar to how it currently markets ethanol.

Aventine president Ron Miller, who is also chairman of the Renewable Fuels Association, says “As the country continues to embrace other sources of renewable fuels in addition to ethanol, we intend to take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace to utilize our 25 years of experience, distribution assets, and customer relationships. Biodiesel is a natural progression and addition from ethanol for us. We will continue our focus on our existing ethanol alliance and expanding our own ethanol production facilities, while at the same time, adding another renewable fuel source to our product lineup.”

Global Warming Education

GW 101 One of the goals of Will Steger’s Global Warming 101 expedition is to educate students about the impact of global climate change on the people living closest to the Arctic Circle.

That’s why there are two educators on the expedition, which is currently traveling across Canada’s Baffin Island. One of them is Abby Fenton of Boston, Massachusetts.

“Right now we have six lesson plans that are all aligned to national standards that are available for free, easy to download, for junior high through high school and then we have a set of over 50 activities based on global warming and those are also free,” said Fenton. There are also a variety of other educational materials on the website, all of which will be updated on a regular basis throughout the expedition.

AbbyFenton says the lessons on the website will document the affect of global climate change on the Inuit people to educate young people about a culture they often learn nothing about in school. In addition, the educational materials on the website include actions that individuals can take to make a difference, such as using ethanol-enriched fuel.

“It’s not that ethanol is the end-all solution to global warming, but it’s a step toward a whole new way of thinking,” Fenton said. “So, we’re really excited about that partnership, something people can do that is out there now and available.”

The expedition and its educational efforts are being supported by the ethanol industry through the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council and Fagen Inc.

Global Warming 101 invites anyone who would like to learn more to download lesson plans from the website, www.globalwarming101.com.

Listen an interview with Abby done in Ely, Minnesota shortly before the team left on their expedition: Listen to MP3 File Abby Fenton (6 min MP3)

Racing in the Sunshine

Florida FreshThe 55th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will be “Fresh From Florida” this year with a fresh new fuel.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has partnered with Sebring International Raceway to sponsor America’s oldest sports car endurance race, which will be held March 17. The winner of this year’s race will celebrate victory with a glass of “Fresh from Florida” orange juice in the winner’s circle.

RLR ALSIt will also be the first American Le Mans Series race to be run on 10 percent ethanol and will feature the entry from Rahal Letterman Racing, sponsored by the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council. The Hilliard, Ohio-based team spent Monday and Wednesday at Sebring in the first test for its Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Team co-owner Bobby Rahal won at Sebring in 1992 in a Porsche 962 and plans on rekindling that success with a lineup of Ralf Kelleners and Tom Milner for the full American Le Mans Series season.

The 2007 American Le Mans Series opens with the 55th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 17 at Sebring International Raceway. The green flag will fall shortly after 10 a.m. and will be broadcast live on the SPEED channel and American Le Mans Radio.

And stay tuned for more racing in the sunshine later this month when the Indy Car Series kicks off at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, running for the first time on 100 percent fuel grade ethanol. That race will be held on March 24 at 8 pm and broadcast live on ESPN2.

University of Florida Seeking Biofuels Research Funding

Jimmy CheekFlorida legislators are being asked to help fund biofuels research in the Sunshine State.

Dr. Jimmy Cheek, Senior Vice President for Agricultural and Natural Resources at the University of Florida, says they are working to convince the legislature to support an alternative fuel initiative that would provide funding to help build a pilot plant in Gainesville and support cellulosic ethanol research.

“Biofuels are critical to the future of Florida,” said Cheek in an interview with Southeast Agnet. “We will not probably produce ethanol from corn and sugar but we will produce it from cellulose.”

That includes agricultural products, agricultural waste, trees, urban waste and hurricane debris.

Listen to Cheek’s interview with Katherine Bush of Southeast Agnet: Listen to MP3 File Dr. Jimmy Cheek (1 min MP3)

Groundbreaking News

US Bioenergy Pacific Ethanol US BioEnergy “continues to bring ethanol production to where it belongs – the heartland of America.” The company will be holding a groundbreaking ceremony for US Bio Dyersville Friday in Dyersville, Iowa.

Meanwhile, out on the west coast, Pacific Ethanol has announced it will begin construction on a 50 million gallon per year ethanol facility at the Port of Stockton, California within the next thirty days.

Food Prices Only Expected to Increase Moderately

USDA Despite a 100 percent increase in corn prices due to higher ethanol demand, the overall impact on food prices is expected to be minimal, according to an agriculture department economist.

Ephraim Leibtag, USDA’s food price economist, says retail food prices are forecast to increase two to three percent this year. “That’s a little bit higher than what we’ve seen in the last couple years, but still within the range of what we’ve seen in the last ten years or so.”

Leibtag says corn prices do have an impact on the cost of food and feed, “but their share of the overall retail budget is relatively small.”

In fact, even with higher feed costs for cattle, beef may actually end up costing less this year because of higher supplies, and the same goes for pork. USDA is predicting about a one percent increase in retail chicken prices.

Listen to USDA report: Listen to MP3 File Food Prices (3 min MP3)

Ethanol Pipeline Proposals

Lugar Harkin Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) have introduced legislation that would direct the U.S. Department of Energy to study the feasibility of transporting ethanol by pipeline from the Midwest to the East and West coasts.

The Ethanol Infrastructure Expansion Act of 2007 would look at creating a dedicated pipeline system could enable ethanol producers to deliver their products to states with a growing demand, like California, New York, and Pennsylvania, at a lower cost.

“We must explore every option for reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Overcoming problems in moving ethanol through pipelines, as Brazil has done, is important in developing the full promise of America’s renewable fuels. This legislation will help determine U.S. infrastructure planning and development,” Lugar said in a press release.

Petrobras Meanwhile, Dow Jones reports that Brazil’s state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PBR), or Petrobras, is planning to start building an ethanol pipeline from central Brazil to the coast this year.

Chief Executive Sergio Gabrielli said, “The pipeline will serve mainly to transport ethanol for export to Japan.”

Petrobras, Japanese company Mitsui & Co. (MITSY) and the Brazilian builder Camargo Correa in late February had signed a memorandum of understanding to study the construction of an ethanol pipeline network in Brazil.

The pipelines would link ethanol producing areas in Brazil’s central state of Goias via main producing areas in Sao Paulo state to the port of Sao Sebastiao on the Atlantic Ocean.