POET to Open 20th Plant

Poet Energy™ is preparing for the grand opening of its 20th ethanol production facility next month in Iowa.

Poet According to a company release, the grand opening event for POET Biorefining in Corning, Iowa will be held on May 4.

The $105 million ethanol production facility in Corning will be the 20th POET production facility and their seventh in the state of Iowa. Once Corning is operational, the annual production capacity of POET will be over one billion gallons.

The event will begin with a flyover from the Vanguard Squadron – the world’s only 100 percent ethanol-powered aerobatic fleet – and guests will include U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.

Leaders Agree on Biofuels Deal

Chavez-LulaVenezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva apparently put their heads together and worked out a compromise on ethanol at this week’s first-ever South American Energy Summit.

Bloomberg reports that South America’s 11 nations have agreed to promote biofuels production to supplement oil output in the region.

According to the story, leaders at the Summit, “agreed to create a regional alliance, to be known as the South American Union, as well as an energy council to regulate and promote cooperation in the sector.”

The summit leaders debated for an entire day over what media reports called an “impasse over conflicting views on the issue by Venezuela and Brazil.” However, Chavez denied that, saying he believes “ethanol is a valid strategy as long as it doesn’t affect food production.”

Venezuela is the world’s eighth-largest exporter of crude while Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of ethanol.

Earth Day Specials on Ethanol

EPICThe Ethanol Promotion and Information Council reports that the environmental benefits of ethanol will be featured in two upcoming Earth Day special television reports. Ethanol industry representatives, including Dan and Jamie Schwarzkopf of Renova Energy, participated in a feature with Sundance Channel during the Daytona open testing for the IndyCar® Series in Daytona, FL in January.

Sundance Channel
“Big Ideas for a Small Planet”
9 PM Eastern (8:00 PM Central Time)
Tuesday, April 17, 2007

ABC News 20/20
“Earth Day Special”
10 PM Eastern (9:00 PM Central Time)
Friday, April 20, 2007

IA ALAMeanwhile, the American Lung Association of Iowa is offering an Earth Day special for drivers in Des Moines with an E85 promotion on Thursday. Des Moines station Dahl’s will be offering E85 for just $1.85 from 10 am until 2 pm. Lt. Gov. Patty Judge will speak about Iowa’s leadership in cleaner-burning biofuels at a 12:30 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony at the station.

“This event is the unofficial kickoff of Earth Day weekend, which is capped by Saturday’s free Blues for Greens concert in Waterworks Park,” said Jessica Zopf, environmental health coordinator for the American Lung Association of Iowa. “The promotion at Dahl’s will also include some new flex fuel vehicles from Bob Brown Chevrolet, hot dogs, chips and drinks for a dollar, and plenty of information about E85 fuel and the vehicles that can use it.”

RFA Hires ADM Staffer

RFAThe Renewable Fuels Associationhas hired Kristin Moore as its new Director of Technical Services.

Ms. Moore joins the RFA from Archer Daniels Midland where she served as Ethanol Technical Service Representative for the past four years. Her prior experience includes being the Quality Assurance Manager in both wet and dry milling operations at the ADM Decatur and Peoria locations. Ms. Moore holds a Chemistry degree from Illinois State University.

Arnold Pumps Biofuels

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger talked about making biofuels cool and sexy during two speeches last week on the East Coast.

Schwarzenegger spoke to the Council on Foreign Relations Board in New York on Thursday and at the Global Environmental Leadership Conference at Georgetown University on Wednesday, making nearly identical speeches comparing the environmental movement to bodybuilding and the need to make being green sexier.

Arnold “You have to make things cool, you have to make things sexy and cutting edge,” he said. “And so we don’t have to take away the cars from the people, the SUVs, the Hummers, and the muscle cars. No. That formula is a formula for failure. Instead, what we have to do is make those muscle cars and those SUVs and those Hummers more environmentally muscular. That is what we have to do. This is why now one of my Hummers runs on biofuel, and the other one of my Hummers runs on hydrogen fuel.”

At the Georgetown conference, which was sponsored by Newsweek, the governor appeared on stage next to a large poster of the current Newsweek cover, which portrays a smiling Schwarzenegger balancing Earth on one finger above the headline, “Save the Planet – Or Else.”

Full text and video of Schwarzenegger’s speeches available on the governor’s website.

Prairie Grass Mixes for Ethanol

Cellulosic ethanol might be better made from a blend of prairie grasses, rather than just one variety.

That is the finding of research being done at the University of Minnesota, according to researcher Dr. Jason Hill who testified at a Field Hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, held April 3 in Fargo, ND.

Jason HillAccording to the ND Farm and Ranch Guide, Hill testified that their study found that mixtures of 16 native prairie species produced 238 percent more energy on average than a single prairie species such as switchgrass and as an added bonus, the stands made up of the plant mixtures removed large amounts of carbon dioxide from the air and stored it in the soil, but that the single species stands did not.

“The environmental benefits of producing biofuels from diverse prairie biomass are striking,” Hill said in his testimony. “Most amazingly, producing and using ethanol from diverse prairie biomass can actually reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This is because a diverse prairie removes more carbon dioxide from the air and stores it in the soil than is released into the air when fossil fuels are burned to farm prairie biomass and convert it into ethanol. This, along with the nitrogen added to the soil by native legumes, actually restores fertility to degraded farmlands, and, a prairie also provides wildlife habitat and reduces soil erosion and pollution of waterways with pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.”

More on the research can be found on the University of Minnesota website.

E85 Viper Sets Speed Record

E85 ViperA Dodge Viper fueled with 85 percent ethanol set a world speed record when it hit 189 mph last week on the runway at the Mojave Air & Space Port.

Not the one that speed enthusiast Karl Jacob was looking for, but a record nonetheless.

According to the LA Times, the 189 mph speed on that one run was the first — thus the best — speed recorded for the standing mile in an ethanol-powered, street-legal car. Jacob said he wanted to best the 217.85 mph record for street-legal, gasoline-powered cars.

The Times also features a video of the Viper. More pictures and video can be found at www.e85viper.com.

CBOT Ethanol Seminars

CBOT The Chicago Board of Trade will be holding a series of educational seminars for managing price risk using CBOT Ethanol futures contracts and its Over-the-Counter calendar swap products. According to CBOT officials, the seminars will be held during April and May in Omaha, Cedar Rapids, Bloomington/Normal, Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Sioux Falls.

The free seminars will be held from 10:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Seminar topics will include an overview of CBOT Ethanol futures and OTC products, advanced strategies for managing ethanol price risk and a market outlook. Beginning April 17, the seminars will be held in the following cities:

April 17: Omaha (Doubletree Omaha Downtown)
April 24: Cedar Rapids (Crowne Plaza Five Seasons Hotel)
April 25: Bloomington/Normal (Doubletree Hotel Bloomington)
April 26: Indianapolis (Sheraton Indianapolis Hotels and Suites)
May 2: Minneapolis (Minneapolis Airport Marriott)
May 3: Sioux Falls (Sheraton Hotel/Sioux Falls Convention Center)

Details are avialable on the CBOT website.

EPA Issues Ethanol Plant Rule

EPAThe Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final ruling that assures facilities producing ethanol for human consumption, industrial use or fuel are treated equally under Clean Air Act permitting requirements.

According to EPA officials, this final rule establishes the same emissions thresholds for new facilities that produce ethanol using a feedstock such as corn or sugar beets regardless of the product produced – 250 tons per year for the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permitting program. The thresholds for the nonattainment NSR and Title V programs will remain at current levels.

The final rule also will no longer require facilities producing ethanol for fuel or industrial purposes to count emissions of criteria pollutants that do not come from process stacks or vents when determining if they meet or exceed the emissions thresholds for the Clean Air Act operating permits, nonattainment NSR, or PSD programs.

Ethanol producers greeted the EPA decision enthusiastically. “This decision is a critical step forward for the ethanol industry and corn producers everywhere. The EPA’s decision fixes a fundamental regulatory unfairness and will allow for more efficient permitting of ethanol plants that will promote American energy independence,” said Bill Paulsen, President of the South Dakota Ethanol Producers, in a statement issued by Poet Energy of Sioux Falls, SD.

VeraSun Plant Opens Early

VeraSun VeraSun Energy Corporation, the nation’s second largest ethanol producer,
has announced the early startup of its 110-million gallon facility located in Charles City, Iowa.

According to a company release, construction on VeraSun’s third ethanol production plant began in March 2006 and was completed nearly three months ahead of schedule.

The plant will annually process 39 million bushels of corn and produce 350,000 tons of distillers grains for livestock feed in addition to 110 million gallons of ethanol. Full production at the facility is scheduled to be reached within 30-45 days.

Andersons Marathon Ethanol Grants

The Andersons Marathon Ethanol project in Greenville, Ohio is getting about $650,000 in state money to move the plant toward completion.

AndersonsAccording to state officials, the plant will receive a $100,000 grant to help cover the costs of buying machinery and equipment. Additionally, the state is providing Darke County with a $500,000 roadwork grant to facilitate the project.

MarathonThe Andersons Marathon Ethanol LLC, a 50/50 joint venture between Marathon Oil Corporation and The Andersons, Inc. and Marathon Petroleum Company LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Marathon Oil Corporation.

The plant will produce 110 million gallons of ethanol and 350,000 tons of distillers dried grain per year and is expected to be in production in the first quarter of 2008.

Chavez Criticizes Ethanol

Chavez-CastroThe president of oil-rich Venezuela is campaigning against President Bush’s plan to increase ethanol use in the United States, with the help of his close friend, Cuban President Fidel Castro.

According to NewsMax, Hugo Chavez pledged to undermine a U.S.-Brazil ethanol agreement in a speech made on Tuesday.

“We are working on an alternative proposal,” he said without elaborating. “Just as we overthrew the Free Trade Area of the Americas, we will now overthrow” the ethanol plan

The Miami Herald notes that Chavez’ attitude is a sudden about face. Until just a few weeks ago, the leftist Chávez was pressing ahead with a five-year project to sow almost 700,000 acres with sugar cane to produce ethanol. With the technical support of Brazil and Cuba, 15 new sugar mills were planned to produce 30,000 barrels of ethanol a day.

However, Chavez says he has no conflict with Brazil, one of the Latin American countries with which he pledges to “share” Venezuela’s enormous oil reserves, or with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Bloomberg reports, “We’ll never fight with Brazil on this, we’ll never fight with Lula,” Chavez said. “The world press says, `It’s `Fidel and Chavez against Bush and Lula.’ No, it’s not like that. It’s Fidel and Chavez against the U.S. empire.”

Castro launched his own attack against the Bush ethanol plan in recently published editorials, saying that “more than three billion people in the world [are] condemned to premature death from hunger and thirst” as a result of Bush’s “sinister idea of converting food into fuel.”

OrtegaMeanwhile, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is also criticizing the Bush ethanol “fantasy campaign.” Press TV reports Ortega said that he fully agrees with Cuban President Fidel Castro that large-scale production of ethanol as a fuel would affect food production for humankind.

EPA Chief on Ethanol Plant Emissions

The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency says a proposed rule change regarding ethanol plant emissions is a matter of consistency, not favoritism.

EPA JohnsonWhen asked about the expected rule change during a press conference announcing the administration’s new Renewable Fuels Standard, administrator Stephen L. Johnson responded, “If you are using corn to produce alcohol for human consumption, you are under one air standard. If you are producing alcohol to be used as a fuel, there’s a different standard,” he said. “That doesn’t make sense. There should be a level playing field, a consistent approach, that is health protective and environmentally protective. And that’s what we are in the rule-making process of doing right now.”

A St. Louis Post-Dispatch story this week headlined that the new rule “would allow plants to pollute more.” Shorter versions of the lengthy article, which gave the EPA reasons for the proposed change, included only the first few paragraphs, indicating that the rule change is politically motivated and would lead to more air pollution.

RFA Pleased With RFS

RFAIt comes as no surprise that the Renewable Fuels Association is very pleased with the Bush Administration’s Renewable Fuels Standard announced today.

In a press release, RFA Chairman Ron Miller of Aventine Renewable Energy called the RFS “a watershed piece of legislation for the U.S. ethanol industry.”

“It has provided our industry a solid foundation from which to grow and the results speak for themselves. Today’s ethanol industry is supporting 160,000 new jobs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lessening our reliance on imported oil. The EPA and Administrator Johnson are to be commended for their efforts to get this program fully implemented.”

RFS Program Announced

In step with the Bush Administration’s call to increase the supply of alternative and renewable fuels nationwide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today established the nation’s first comprehensive Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, according to an EPA news release.

US Depts At a press conference today, EPA Administrator Johnson, joined by Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Nicole Nason, discussed the RFS program, increasing the use of alternative fuels and modernizing CAFÉ standards for cars.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard offers the American people a hat trick – it protects the environment, strengthens our energy security, and supports America’s farmers,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “Today, we’re taking an important first step toward meeting President Bush’s “20 in 10” goal of jumping off the treadmill of foreign oil dependency.”

“Increasing the use of renewable and alternative fuels to power our nation’s vehicles will help meet the President’s Twenty in Ten goal of reducing gasoline usage by 20 percent in ten years,” Secretary Bodman said. “The Administration’s sustained commitment to technology investment will bring a variety of alternative fuel sources to market and further reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of energy.”

“While we must look at increasing the availability of renewable and alternative fuels, we must also continue to improve the fuel efficiency of our passenger cars and light trucks,” said Nicole R. Nason, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “As a part of the President’s “20 in 10” energy security plan, we need Congress to give the Secretary of Transportation the authority to reform the current passenger car fuel economy standard.”

The RFS program will promote the use of fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, which are largely produced from American crops. The program will create new markets for farm products, increase energy security, and promote the development of advanced technologies that will help make renewable fuel cost-competitive with conventional gasoline. In particular, the RFS program establishes special incentives for producing and using fuels produced from cellulosic biomass, such as switchgrass and woodchips.

Listen to the entire interview press conference. Listen to MP3 File RFS Press Conference (27:00 min MP3)