Biomass Advisory Committee Members

USDAEPAU.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Acting Secretary Chuck Conner and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel Bodman today announced the appointment of six new members and the reappointment of seven members to serve on its Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee for a term of three years. The Committee was established by the Biomass Research and Development Act of 2000 to assist USDA and DOE in meeting important national goals for a healthier rural economy and improved national energy security.

Newly appointed members include:

Gil Gutknecht, Co-Chair, Consultant, Rochester, Minn.; Richard Hamilton, CEO, Ceres, Inc.; Jay Levenstein, Deputy Commissioner, Florida Department of Agriculture; Shirley J. Neff, Association of Oil Pipe Lines; Tom Simpson, Railway Supply Institute; Richard Timmons, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.

Reappointed members include:

Bob Dinneen, President, Renewable Fuels Association; Douglas Hawkins, Rohm and Haas Company; Charles Kinoshita, University of Hawaii at Manoa; Eric Larson, Princeton University; James Martin, Omni Tech International; Scott Mason, Director, ConocoPhillips Petroleum Company; Edwin White, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

FAPRI Analyzes Energy Bill

fapri.jpgThe Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri has completed an analysis of the new energy bill, and the results seem to point to some pretty positive results from the legislation.

FAPRI reports the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, signed into law by President Bush on December 19th, will have positive consequences for biofuels in the short and long term. From the report’s summary:

Relative to baseline projections developed in early 2007, the implementation of the selected provisions of EISA would have important implications for biofuel and agricultural markets.

• Under a range of plausible assumptions, the EISA mandates result in more ethanol and biodiesel production than would otherwise occur.

• Higher levels of biofuel production translate into increased use of corn and vegetable oil. This increase in demand results in higher prices for corn, soybeans and most other agricultural commodities.

• Higher crop prices translate into reduced taxpayer costs of government farm programs and higher levels of crop producer income.

• Impacts of higher mandates are very sensitive to the price of petroleum and assumptions regarding the extension of current biofuel tax credits and tariffs.

You can read the full analysis by clicking here.

SF Mayor Highlights Green in Inaugural Address

newsominaug.jpgSan Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom highlighted green energy, including biodiesel, solar, and wind, in his inaugural address.

Here’s an excerpt from that speech from the mayor’s web site:

The most important step we can take is to make this city carbon neutral. And that is exactly what we are going to do. Today I am pledging to make city government carbon neutral by the year 2020.

It is a daring challenge, but we will make it a reality by building on our pioneering initiatives – a carbon tax and a local carbon offset plan, a 100% biodiesel fleet, a landmark solar incentive program, a green collar jobs tax credit and innovative green building requirements.

And that is just the beginning. We are not just a beacon for the world – we are going to light this city with renewable power. We are aggressively advancing to expand local renewable energy generation – tidal, wave, solar, wind and geothermal.

As you might remember from my November 29th, 2007 post, more than 1,500 vehicles including buses, several fire engines, ambulances, and street sweepers (just to name a few) the city runs are now running on biodiesel, proving that San Francisco is putting its money where its green mouth is.

WIREC 2008 Agenda Set

WIREC 08The agenda has been set for the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference, or WIREC 2008. Cabinet-level government officials from more than 70 countries will gather with industry leaders at the event to discuss the opportunities and challenges of a global, rapid deployment of renewable energy.

WIREC 2008 is the third global ministerial-level conference on renewable energy, following events in Beijing in 2005 and Bonn in 2004. The schedule has been designed to complement that of the Trade Show and Business Conference at WIREC 2008, which is being organized by the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE).

Participants will address key drivers of greater renewable energy production and use, including: Market Adoption and Finance; Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development; Technology, Research and Development; and State and Local Government Initiatives. Each theme will examine policy initiatives that can facilitate rapid scale-up of renewable energy.

Registration information is available on-line here.

MO Governor Pushes More Ethanol

MO Governor Matt BluntMissouri Governor Matt Blunt is serious about making the Show Me State a renewable fuels leader.

As of January 1, the state became only the third in the nation to implement a statewide 10 percent ethanol standard. Now the governor has proposed several initiatives targeted at promoting the use of and expanding access to E85 in Missouri.

At the Missouri Governor’s Conference on Agriculture Monday in St. Louis, Blunt told reporters that he supports tax incentives for retail outlets to install E85 pumps. “Only about two percent of our gas stations sell E85,” said Blunt. “E85 is a cleaner burning fuel, good for the environment, helpful to Missouri farmers, and from a national security perspective it makes a lot more sense to buy fuel that’s produced right here in the Midwest rather than in the Mid East.”

Blunt’s proposals will be considered by the Missouri legislature during the 2008 session which begins on Wednesday.

Listen to Blunt’s comments in response to questions from Domestic Fuel reporter Chuck Zimmerman.

Tennessee DOT Giving Grants to Promote Biofuels

biotenn.jpgTennessee’s Department of Transportation plans to hand out $1 million in grants to help promote biodiesel and ethanol at gas pumps along the interstates in Tennessee.

This story in the Chattanooga (TN) Times Free Press says one of the first Green Island Corridor grants is going to a station in Cleveland in the southeast part of the state:

Tom Robertson, owner of Fuel & Mart USA No. 4 on Lee Highway, said the store will convert a gasoline tank into one suitable for biodiesel within weeks.

“I would say we’ll begin selling it within a couple of months,” Mr. Robertson said.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation awarded $12,024 to Fuel & Mart USA No. 4 in November, state officials said.

TDOT officials said the state set aside about $1 million to help establish a network of biodiesel and ethanol stations along Tennessee interstates.

TDOT spokeswoman Julie Oaks said the idea is to have stations no more than 100 miles apart, giving travelers a chance to refuel using alternatives.

She said the state has already approved grants for 64 to 66 pumps and could fund up to 22 more. No more state or federal dollars have been set aside, she said.

“We are hoping to receive additional state dollars,” she said.

Officials believe the grants will make it easier for the small businessmen who run the gas stations to make the infrastructure changes needed. Some estimates say the cost of converting a tank can be $16,000 to $18,000.

Measuring Up the Candidates

repubguide.jpgSo you say you haven’t heard enough from the 16 candidates running for President? There’s just not been enough media coverage for your tastes? OK, so maybe you think you’ve heard enough about the crowd (especially if you’re living in Iowa or New Hampshire), but you do need some information to make an informed decision, right? Especially when it comes to how they stack up on alternative energy issues.

Well, The Daily Green web site is offering a voter’s guide to how green all the candidates are (don’t be fooled by the graphic, there’s plenty of links to see how the Democrats are on alternative fuel issues). Here’s an example of what you would see on the page. I put these two candidates side by side. Normally, it’s just one at a time. Do your own comparing:

As I said, there are similar links for each of the candidates, Republicans and Democrats, at the Daily Green’s election guide web sites. Check ‘em out and make the decision for yourself. Maybe the sooner you make up your mind, the sooner they’ll leave the poor folks in Iowa and New Hampshire alone!

Wind, Solar Left Behind in Energy Bill

While the ethanol and biodiesel industries will benefit from President Bush’s signature on the new energy bill, wind and solar could be left out in the cold a bit.

Tax credits for the solar and wind energy industries are going to expire at the end of 2008. Renewal of the $21.5 billion of those credits prompted a veto threat from President Bush and eventual withdrawal of that section from the bill. This story from Reuters says the lack of the tax credits could have a chilling effect:

Without the tax credits set to expire at the end of 2008, homeowners and businesses will hesitate to invest in the new technologies, industry officials warn. Manufacturing plants for solar and wind power components will also be endangered, they said.

seia.gifThe credits are “absolutely critical for making a market in the United States,” said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “What will happen is you will see solar installations start to drop off in the second quarter of 2008 if they are not extended.”

awea.jpgCongressional action in the early part of 2008 is needed “to keep investors from getting nervous,” said Greg Wetstone, governmental affairs director for the American Wind Energy Association.

“It would be hard to imagine a worse time for the United States to effectively shift away from the one policy that’s now in place that reinforces renewable energy,” Wetstone said.

In the past, the solar and wind energy tax credits were saved at the last minute. But the article points out that the credits will expire three weeks before President Bush leaves office, and there’s seems to be little incentive for him to change his mind.

NBB Applauds Passage of Energy Bill

nbb-logo.jpgThe National Biodiesel Board is applauding the U.S. House’s passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 by a 314-100. The U.S. Senate passed identical legislation last week, and President Bush has indicated he will sign it.

The biggest selling point of the bill is the significant expansion of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) that will increase the use of biodiesel in the United States, according to this NBB press release:

The expanded RFS provided for in H.R. 6 requires a specific renewable requirement for diesel fuel that will be met by biodiesel and other renewable biomass-based diesel fuels. Increasing the minimum renewable requirement in the diesel pool from 500 million gallons in 2009 to 1 billion gallons in 2012 will create a stable, viable domestic market for biodiesel. In addition, the fuel labeling requirements in the bill will promote consumer confidence in renewable fuels and help ensure that only quality fuels are entered into commerce.

joe-jobethumbnail3.jpg“We congratulate the House and the Senate for the bipartisan efforts of policymakers who worked together to pass this landmark legislation that will help America depend less on foreign oil and more on clean-burning, domestically produced biodiesel,” said NBB CEO Joe Jobe. “Biodiesel producers across America stand ready to meet the aggressive renewable goals provided for in this bill.”

NBB Praises Energy Bill Passage

nbb-logo.jpgThe National Biodiesel Board is applauding the U.S. Senate’s passage of the Energy Bill… especially the section of the bill that expands the Renewable Fuels Standard:

The expanded RFS requires a specific renewable requirement for diesel fuel that will be met by biodiesel and other renewable biomass-based diesel fuels. Increasing the minimum renewable requirement in the diesel pool from 500 million gallons in 2009 to 1 billion gallons in 2012 will create a stable, viable domestic market for biodiesel. In addition, the fuel labeling requirements in the bill will promote consumer confidence in renewable fuels and help ensure that only quality fuels are entered into commerce.
“Passage of H.R. 6 is a significant achievement that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and increase the use of clean-burning, domestically produced biodiesel,” said NBB CEO Joe Jobe. “The biodiesel industry stands ready to meet the aggressive renewable goals provided for in this bill.”

The bill goes back to the U.S. House for final approval before being sent to the president.

Author Outlines “Energy Victory”

Energy VictoryAn aerospace engineer and author thinks the country needs a new direction in energy policy to “break the economic stranglehold that the OPEC oil cartel has on our country.”

Robert Zubrin is president of Pioneer Astronautics, a private company that does research and development on innovative aerospace technologies, and author of several books including his most recent, “Energy Victory,” in which he advocates Congress passed a law requiring that all new cars sold in the USA be flex-fueled.

“If we create the market by mandating that the cars be flex-fueled, it will break the monopoly,” Zubrin says. “Right now the only fuel that American consumers can buy is what the enemy is selling.”

Zubrin believes the American public is getting tired of being beholden to foreign oil interests. “This has gone on long enough. In 1973, we were 30 percent dependent on foreign oil, now we are 60 percent dependent. At the same time, Brazil – which has had an ethanol policy – went from 80 percent to zero. This is the most important issue affecting our national security and our economic well-being.”

Listen to some of Dr. Zubrin’s comments from an interview here.

Senate Passes Energy Bill

After stripping the bill of a $21 billion tax package, he U.S. Senate has passed an amended energy bill that includes an expansion of the Renewable Fuels Standard to 36 billion gallons of annual renewable fuel use by 2022. The bill now goes back to the House of Representatives for approval before it can be sent to the president for his signature. Removal of the tax increases for oil companies should remove the threat of a presidential veto. The Senate also removed another provision the White House had objected to which would have required that 15 percent of America’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2020.

RFARenewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen says the Senate bill takes a big step forward in making the nation more energy stable and environmentally sustainable.

“This bill, and the Renewable Fuels Standard specifically, is an affirmation of what is possible when we work together to achieve a common goal,” said Dinneen in a statement. “By relying more heavily on domestically produced renewable fuels, including next generation technologies such as cellulosic ethanol, we can begin the hard work necessary to mitigate the impact of global climate changes, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and leave a more stable and sustainable future for generations that follow.”

ACEBrian Jennings, Executive Vice President of the American Ethanol Coalition, commended the Senate for its action. “This may be the most profoundly important step in support of energy security ever taken by the U.S., an unmistakable shift toward renewable fuels and energy conservation and away from our dangerous and expensive reliance on fossil fuels,” Jennings said.

Senate to Change Energy Bill

The Senate fell one vote short in a procedural vote to move the Energy Bill passed by the House that includes tax increases for oil companies. The White House had threatened to veto the bill over that issue.

Majority Leader Harry Reid now says they will eliminate the tax title to get a revised energy package approved later today. “We must begin to break our country’s addiction to oil,” Reid said.

The bill will still include an increased Renewable Fuels Standard and higher CAFE standards.

Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky predicted the revised bill would be approved with wide bipartisan support.

The legislation, if passed by the Senate, would have to be voted on by the House.

Pennsylvania Senate Passes Energy & Biodiesel Bills

Pennsylvania’s State Senate has passed several bills in the last couple of days that will help renewable energy efforts in the Keystone State.

The Houston (TX) Chronicle reports a $650 million omnibus energy bill and two biodiesel measures received passage on the last day of business for Senate for the year:

senwhite.jpg“This is a wonderful start and is a great way to end our calendar year with what I think is a great success under our belt,” said Sen. Mary Jo White, the Venango County Republican who was a sponsor of all three bills.

The energy bill would divide the $650 million among different sectors of the energy industry and residents and business owners.

The biggest chunk, $380 million, would go to companies that produce energy, manufacture equipment for the industry or research and develop new technologies. Among the energy sectors that could benefit are wind, biofuels, solar, geothermal and coal. Some of the money also would be available to local governments for renewable energy and conservation projects.

Another $165 million would be available for reimbursements and rebates for consumers who buy solar panels, hybrid vehicles and home conservation items such as energy efficient furnaces, air conditioners, windows and doors.

The biodiesel measures would mandate biodiesel be in each gallon of diesel sold in the state, increasing as production in Pennsylvania increases, and would raise the in-state biodiesel production subsidy from 5 cents to 75 cents a gallon.

The bills could face changes when they hit the Pennsylvania House, and the governor has indicated he’s not ecstatic about all the provisions.

Chrysler Fuel Cell Technology in California

Chrysler LLCChrysler LLC has joined the California Fuel Cell Partnership, becoming the 34th member of the organization. Chrysler says the CaFCP is valuable colloboration that encourages engineers to develop solutions for hydrogen technology at an accelerated rate.

“We are pleased to welcome Chrysler as the California Fuel Cell Partnership’s ninth automotive member,” said Catherine Dunwoody, CaFCP’s executive director. “We’re looking forward to the new perspectives and ideas Chrysler will bring to the table as we all work together to commercialize this important transportation solution.”

California Fuel Cell PartnershipChrysler pioneered fuel cell vehicle technology more than 10 years ago. Fuel cells release energy from the reaction of hydrogen with a catalyst and oxygen. This clean technology operates at a high level of efficiency and is true zero-emission. Hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles emit only pure water vapor as exhaust. Fuel cell systems are part of Chrysler’s advanced- propulsion technology umbrella, which includes efficient gasoline engines, advanced diesels and hybrid powertrain systems.

Founded in 1999, CaFCP members have placed 188 fuel cell passenger vehicles and transit buses on California’s roads. In addition, CaFCP members have built 27 hydrogen stations, with 11 more planned, forming the largest hydrogen infrastructure in the world.

CaFCP describes itself as an organization of auto manufacturers, energy providers, fuel cell technology companies and government agencies, where members work together to promote the commercialization of hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles.