Iowa Gov. Branstad Expands “Fueling Our Future”

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s “Fueling Our Future” program has recognized two retailers for their innovative plans to increase accessibility to higher ethanol and biodiesel blends. Farmers Cooperative based in Mount Ayr, Iowa and Oak Street station based in Inwood, Iowa both received $125,000 to offset the cost of adding renewable fuel infrastructure for biodiesel and ethanol. In addition, he has committed to expanding the program.

I’ve long been an advocate for increasing consumer access to locally-produced, environmentally-friendly renewable fuels,” said Iowa Governor Terry Branstad during a press conference. “The two retailers receiving funding as part of the ‘Fueling Our Future’ program will provide Iowans with additional access to higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel, supporting Iowa products and jobs, while also improving air quality.”

The Farmer’s Cooperative station in Mount Ayr will offer E10, E15, and E30, E50 and E85 as well as B5, B10 and B20. “Based on the consumer response to higher levels of renewable fuels at our Creston location, Farmers Cooperative wants to add more blender pumps where they are needed,” said Farmers Cooperative Creston Location Manager Darin Schlapia. “Mount Ayr is the hub of Ringgold County and we want to capture that customer base by offering more American-made fuel options. We’re pooling the Coop members’ resources to drive profitability and offer more competitively priced fueling options not otherwise available.”

Oak Street Station received a grant for its new fueling site set to be built in the Northwest Iowa town of Inwood. The station will offer E10, E15, E30, and E85, as well as B5 year-round and B99.9 during the summer months for independent jobbers and special use customers such as tractor pullers.

Oak Street Station Accountant Lisa VanRegenmorter said, “At Oak Street Station, we have a passion for renewable fuels and want to help grow the industry. Putting in blender pumps and biodiesel will continue our support for biofuels, provide fuel choices for our customers, and supply customer data to support the state’s Fueling the Future initiative.”

The “Fueling Our Future” program is administered by the Iowa Department of Transportation and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. The purpose of the program is to gain better consumer information regarding fueling preferences, expand the use and availability of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel, and provide a pathway to reduce particulate matter in Iowa.

Lucy Norton, Managing Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association applauds the program. “We commend Gov. Branstad for his unwavering support in making Iowa a model state for fuel choice and consumer access to clean-burning renewable fuels. With the help of Gov. Branstad, IDALS, and the Iowa DOT, Iowa is raising the bar to show the nation that higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel are the preferred fuels.”

Stop Protecting Big Oil’s Bottom Line

A new TV advertising campaign is being launched in Washington, D.C. this Sunday by Americans United for Change calling for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop supporting Big Oil’s bottom line. The EPA is currently reviewing comments of their 2014 proposed rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The goal of the TV ad is to underscore the consequences for rural jobs and all American consumers if they ultimately give Big Oil what they want: crippling their cheaper, cleaner renewable fuels competition.

‘Bottom Line’ follows two previous Americans United TV ads in support of the RFS, “Simple Choice” and ‘Why Mess With Success?”, and its digital ad campaign ‘Big Oil Is the Real Winner’, fighting back against the oil industry’s lies.

“Big Oil needs another giveaway from Washington like our coastal environment and economies need another BP deep-water spill,” said Caren Benjamin, executive director of Americans United for Change. “The industry already enjoys absurd loopholes that allowed the biggest companies among them to pay no taxes or even negative taxes in recent years. And while the ethanol industry voluntarily gave up their tax credit at the end of 2011, Big Oil runs attack ads against lawmakers who dare to suggest they don’t need $4 billion a year in taxpayer subsidies at a time when they’re posting $100 billion in profit. And how does Big Oil pay back the taxpayers for all their generosity? By shaking them down at the pump and polluting their ground water.”

Benjamin noted that Big oil gets whatever they ask for from Washington and said they are now asking the EPA to help put out of business their 70 cent cheaper and cleaner renewable fuels competition. “It’s time to draw the line not just because gutting the RFS is another giveaway to Big Oil, but because it’d be a huge takeaway from our rural economies, our national security, environment, and innovation towards cleaner renewable fuels of tomorrow.”

With a call to action to stop messing with the RFS Benjamin concludes that it doesn’t make sense to “mess with the success of the RFS.”

Iowa RFA’s Shaw Has Ag Support for Congress

shaw-congressIowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw is one of several Republican candidates vying to replace the retiring Tom Latham as Iowa’s representative in the Third Congressional District, but he may have more grassroots agricultural support than most of them.

Shaw has just announced the formation of his Iowa Agriculture Team, which includes key ag leaders from across the district. “It takes more than just great land and good weather to make Iowa the leading agricultural state – it takes great leaders,” Shaw said. “As a farm boy, I’ve still got the dirt under my fingernails and with the help of these experts I will be up to speed on the challenges facing Iowa’s farmers. I also appreciate their willingness to take our message out to the countryside and the city. Folks connected to and interested in agriculture will play key roles on our path to victory in June and November.”

Among the members of his team are Grant Kimberley of Ankeny, a 6th generation corn and soybean farmer who was just named executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, and Julius Schaaf of Randolph, chairman of the United States Grain Council and a 4th generation farmer.

Shaw officially launched his campaign for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District last month. He intends to remain in his position with Iowa RFA during the campaign with the full support of the organization’s board of ethanol producers.

Watch his campaign announcement below.

Google Hopes for Good Results from Wind Project

makaniSearch engine giant Google is hoping the expansion of a California wind energy operation by one of its companies will give good results. This story from KCBS in San Francisco says Google-owned Makani Power is expanding its presence at, or maybe more accurately, ABOVE the formal naval base in Alameda.

When Google bought Makani Power in 2013, the seven year-old start up was leasing 17, 000 square feet at Alameda Point. The new lease calls for 127,000 square feet—with an option to take over the adjacent hangars and buildings as they become available.

“It’s exciting to the city of Alameda on number of different levels,” Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore told KCBS. “One, we get to keep a tenant and who is seriously on the cutting edge of technology, and with Google’s investment. Who wouldn’t want to have a high profile tenant like Google?”

Makani Power is trying to build off-shore wind farms using tethered-winged devices that capture wind energy at high altitudes or above deep waters. Check out the video on that project:
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Arming for a Fact-Based Fight Over Ethanol

bernens1It’s not always fact-based arguments proponents of ethanol are up against when battling Big Oil. But that’s why it’s all more important to make sure you have good facts on your side in the fight. Farmers who attended the recent Commodity Classic in San Antonio were able to sit in on a session titled, “Biofuels and the Renewable Fuels Standard, A Farmer’s Avenue to American Energy Independence,” to make sure they can talk about the success stories and silence ethanol’s critics.

“Because of our success, we’ve had Big Oil really come after us and say, ‘We’re not going to lose anymore market share,’” says Jack Bernens, session moderator and marketer of Syngenta’s Enogen corn, specifically designed for ethanol production. “When monopolies get threatened, they like to push back hard.”

Hear more of what Jack had to say here: Jack Bernens, Syngenta

jennings1Jack was joined on the panel by Brian Jennings with the American Coalition for Ethanol, who echoed Jack’s view that you’re not necessarily battling facts when it comes to taking on some of the myths put out by the petroleum industry.

“The message I was trying to relay to the corn growers is stay involved, remain engaged, get your neighbors and friends involved, and know that this isn’t a fact-based fight. When the fight is about facts, we always win,” Brian says, adding that ethanol doesn’t have to stoop to the lies and scare tactics of Big Oil.

Listen to Brian’s interview here: Brian Jennings, American Coalition for Ethanol

doxtad1Another effective tool in the fight is showing the positive change ethanol has brought to Rural America, creating better markets for farmers’ corn, helping the country achieve energy independence, and building up communities, like the one that Northwest Iowa corn farmer James Doxtad comes from. He says while many folks back in his home state are aware of the good the renewable fuel has brought to the heartland, too many people in the country just don’t know. “It’s amazing how many people out there are unaware of the advantages of ethanol. Ethanol is a good thing, and we’re producing a good product, and we’re doing it for a good reason.” he says.

Check out James’ interview here: James Doxtad, Holstein, Iowa

Meanwhile, all three might get some help spreading the word as Syngenta released a new documentary video titled, “Ethanol: Fueling Rural America’s Future – One Community at a Time,” that provides a platform for farmers, ethanol producers and industry advocates to share their passion for an industry critical to the future of agriculture and rural America.

NEC Global Ethanol Conversation

nec14-globalIt is always interesting to hear the perspectives of different countries during the National Ethanol Conference global panel and to see the similarities as well as differences in viewpoint.

The panel was moderated by Bliss Baker, Global Renewable Fuels Alliance, and included Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen, as well as (from left to right): Joel Velasco, Senior Advisor to Board of UNICA; Scott Thurlow, President, Canadian Renewable Fuels Association; Jayant Godbole, President and Director PRAJ Americas, Inc.; and Robert Vierhout, Secretary-General, ePURE

nec14-epureA few years ago, it was Brazil and the United States sparring with each other over ethanol trade and tariffs, but now it is the Europeans who are challenging the U.S. ethanol industry in the export arena.

“The real loser in the EU’s nonsensical action is the European consumer, who is being denied access to low cost high performance renewable fuels,” Dinneen said in his state of the industry address. Vierhout challenged that assertion on the panel. “Bob, please wake up,” said Vierhout. “If you would export your ethanol to Europe, who’s going to gain? Not the consumer, it’s the oil companies.”

Even Brazil and Canada fired back at Vierhout over Europe’s policy. “I’ll summarize for Rob,” said Velasco. “He’s never met a gallon, or a liter, or hectoliter, of ethanol imports that he likes.”

Thurlow questioned how this would play in the current European-U.S. trade negotiations. “I don’t see how your position can be tenable, Rob, if you are going to have a dispute resolution mechanism that will basically make it impossible for these types of ‘snap-back tariffs’ to be put on,” he said. To which Vierhout replied, “There’s still a possibility (the trade agreement) will exclude ethanol.”

Listen to the conversation here and watch the European exchange on video below: Growing Global Ethanol Industry Panel Discussion

2014 National Ethanol Conference Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC

National Ethanol Conference Golf Winners

Golf Tournament WinnersBecause of today’s beautiful weather in Orlando, FL, everyone is a winner at the annual golf tournament of the National Ethanol Conference. We had about 130 golfers playing today.

Here is the winning team receiving their cash prize from Alex Obuchowski, RFA CFO. I’ll get the names and add them later.

Attn Golfers: You can find your team photo in the online album, click on it, then right click to download the size you want right to your computer. Please enjoy and share.

2014 National Ethanol Conference Golf Tournament Photo Album

NEC Coverage sponsored by Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC

Keep Our Tax Breaks: We Only Make $93B in Profit

Dear Congress,

Please keep our millions of dollars in tax breaks in place. We only make $93 billion in collective profit per year. This is not enough money to operate our businesses and overcharge our customers. We’re sure you will make the right decision.

Yours truly,

Big Oil

This is what a letter to Congress might look like from Big Oil who according to a report from the Center for American Progress, made a combined profit of $93 billion in 2013. The total is for five big oil companies: BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Shell. Despite this ridiculous amount of revenue (these companies made $177,000 per minute), they are fighting to keep their tax breaks in addition to lobbying to lift the crude oil export ban.

The five Big Oil Brothers actually increased total production in 2013 most due to BP and ConocoPhillips in essence single handedly doubling production. Although production went up, profits went down because it is becoming more expensive to extract oil. It is this change that is causing the oil industry to argue they need their tax breaks to continue.

What is staggering is that the $93 billion profit is down nearly 27 percent from 2012. In addition to higher cost of production, the average price of gasoline in 2012 was 16 cents less per gallon than the previous year.

It would not be surprising, write Daniel Weiss and Miranda Peterson, both with Center for American Progress, “if the big five oil companies use their 2013 decline in profits as another excuse to pressure Congress to retain their $2.4 billion-per-year tax breaks. The largest of these special provisions, they write, allows these companies to qualify for the “limitation on section 199 deduction attributable to oil, natural gas, or primary products, which will cost taxpayers $14.4 billion over 10 years. This according to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. This particular tax break was enacted in 2004 and was designed to encourage manufacturing to remain in the United States rather than move overseas. It was not meant to apply to oil and natural gas production since the oil and gas fields cannot be moved to another nation. Continue reading

IRFA’s “Fuel the Future” Winners Announced

Jon Low 2014 IRFA Fuel the Future Grand Prize WinnerThe winners of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association’s (IRFA) 4th Annual “Fuel the Future” Video Contest were announced today during the 8th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit. The first place award and $1,000 went to John Low of Marion, Iowa. An 11th grader from Linn-Mar High School won for his highly entertaining, creative and informative video, “E15: The Fuel of the Future”. Low beat out 26 other entries.

Second place, and winner of a $600 prize, was awarded to Tyler Yates and Dalton Hart of Muscatine, Iowa for their video entitled, “Saving the Planet with Ethanol.” Tyler and Dalton are juniors at Muscatine High School.

IRFA 2014 Fuel the Future Video 3rd Place WinnersThird place, and winner of a $400 prize, was awarded to Megan Anderson, Trenton Bacus and Tyler Blaudow of Bussey, Iowa for their “Paul Harvey spoof” entitled, “The Farmer Made Biodiesel.” Anderson is a senior, while Bacus and Blaudow are juniors at Twin Cedars High School.

“Every year I’m amazed at how creative and informative these student-produced videos are,” said IRFA Communications Director T.J. Page. “The IRFA congratulates all of the ‘Fuel the Future’ winners, as well as each of the Iowa high school students who took on the challenge of entering this year’s contest.”

IRFA’s “Fuel the Future” video contest challenges Iowa high school students to create the best video highlighting the importance and benefits of renewable fuels—such as ethanol and biodiesel—to local communities, Iowa and the nation. This year’s contest was sponsored by the law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels LLP.

View the 2014 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit photo album.

Algae Biodiesel Fuel From Utah State

nbb-14-rhesa-ledbetterRhesa Ledbetter from Utah State University was one of the students who attended the 2014 National Biodiesel Conference. Chuck caught up with her for an interview and she explains her research in algae biodiesel fuel.

Rhesa finished her master’s in micro-biology and then decided she wanted to do a project that was really applied. To her biodiesel products seemed to make a lot of sense and something that would work well with her background.

“Our group at Utah State is focusing on biodiesel produced from algae. We have characterized a lot of properties and we also have a diesel streamliner we have been able to run out on the salt flats. It’s been great for me to be able to learn so much about a topic that I wasn’t really familiar with. Being able to interface with all these experts has been invaluable. I think collaborations will develop from this event will end up enhancing our research.”

In the future Rhesa and her team look to continue seeking more efficient ways to produce the fuel and promoting all the great traits biodiesel has.

Earlier this year Joanna did a post on the Aggie A-Salt Streamliner Rhesa mentioned. You can find that post here.

2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Gas Hole’s Impact on the Industry

nbb-14-gasholeWhen Jeremy Wagner and Scott Roberts made the movie Gas Hole a couple of years ago, they had no idea the impact it would have. During the recent 2014 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo the co-directors/producers presented to attendees, showed an extended excerpt from the movie and did a little Q & A.

Chuck caught up with the team and they shared how they decided a film about the oil industry was their goal and what research it took to accomplish such an endeavor.

Scott said the idea come to them “when the gas prices hit an all-time high. At the time I think it was only $3.25, it was unheard of at the time. We saw an article in a newspaper written by a gentlemen who remembered seeing a vehicle back in the 50′s that he was told got a 100 mph. What happened to that technology and why aren’t we using it?”

They knew they wanted to do a documentary together, but hadn’t decided on a topic. After this discovery they hunted down the man from the article and the rest is history.

“As we started to learn about the history of oil and what happened going back to standard oil. How that became a giant monopoly and then broken up and how it moved us into the 70′s and then we had the oil embargo. The story is so enormous and fascinating we kept running in to these things that you don’t really think about or know unless you have researched it,” Jeremy said. He continued by saying, “We started researching alternative fuels and seeing what was the most viable thing and we came across biodiesel and what was happening in that industry.”

The duo share that their message to viewers is to explain this concept that has been made very complex, when it shouldn’t be. Gas Hole presents the idea that the solutions to our oil dependency is relatively simple.

“We hope through the film we can open people’s eyes and make them think about things they have never thought about before and takeaway all the great things in history that have been accomplished. It took hard work and determination, we are a great country – we have great innovators. This is a perfect example being here at this conference and seeing the people that are doing just that.” added Scott.

If you are interested in purchasing Gas Hole, visit GasHoleMovie.com. It is also available on iTunes, Netflix, Amazon and basically all the major outlets.

You can listen to Chuck’s complete interview with Jeremy & Scott here: Interview with Jeremy Wagner & Scott Roberts

2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album

Minnesotans Encouraged to Think Biodiesel

Minnesota soybean farmers are reminding their fellow Minnesotans just how much biodiesel has cleaned up the air they breathe. The Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC), better known as Minnesota Soybean, launched a campaign that clearly illustrates the advantages of soy-based biodiesel in improving air quality, including the following video airing local TV and cable stations, as well on the group’s social media channels:


“We want to open the consumer’s eyes to the reality of emissions from vehicles that run on petroleum. In fact, vehicle emissions are the largest source of air pollution in Minnesota,” states Bill Zurn, a Becker County farmer and Minnesota Soybean New Uses Action Team chair. “There is a positive message here in the use of alternative fuels.”

“Biodiesel is a cleaner-burning fuel that’s made in Minnesota,” says Bob Moffitt, communications director for the American Lung Association in Minnesota (ALAMN). “We recognize biodiesel as a Clean Air Choice® because of its ability to significantly reduce tailpipe emissions and help lessen our exposure to air pollutants. Not only does using biodiesel reduce particulate emissions, it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.”

The group also points out that biodiesel in Minnesota alone provides more than 5,600 jobs, adds about $928 million to the economy, and increases demand by 13 percent for the state’s while also increasing in-state soybean processing capacity by 31 percent.

Minnesota Soybean is also offering a “North Shore Clean Air Adventure” to Duluth, rated by the American Lung Association as one of the top 25 cleanest U.S. cities. Winners get a three-night stay in the city and $500 spending money. The website www.biodiesel.mn has more information.

Why Mess with Success?

On the same day as the “Hearing in the Heartland” event took place in Des Moines, Iowa to gather comments to submit to the EPA regarding their 2014 proposed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rules, Americans United for Change launched its next in a series of TV ads asking rural Americans to join the thousands of citizens around the country who have spoken out on the RFS.

The ad called “Why Mess With Success,” began airing yesterday in Washington DC, Cedar Rapids, IA, and the Quad Cities. The ad makes the closing argument that the RFS has been invaluable for rural economies the last decade, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in new wealth while saving consumers millions at the pump. Which is why it makes no sense to change course so drastically by gutting the RFS.

Brad Woodhouse, President, Americans United for Changes said of the ad campaign and the RFS, “It’s an open secret that Big Oil has spent millions of dollars trying to put out of business their 70 cent cheaper and cleaner renewable fuels competition. If Washington does what Big Oil wants and strips apart the Renewable Fuel Standard, it’ll be a case study in fixing what isn’t broke that would make the inventors of New Coke blush. While the U.S. economy has been on a wild ride the last decade, rural communities that seized opportunities in the renewable fuels industry have seen nothing but growth, new jobs, new wealth, and more reasons for their children to stay.”

“That’s why the choice before the EPA should be an easy one: either continue to go forward creating thousands of jobs that can’t be outsourced and revitalizing rural economies, or backward,” continued Woodhouse. “Either continue going forward weaning the nation off its addiction to overseas oil, or backwards. Continue making innovations in next generation renewable fuel sources that will build on its success of meeting 10 percent of the nation’s fuel needs, or discourage it. Continue going forward in cutting down carbon emissions harmful to the environment, or backwards and watch as already common oil-industry related disasters become even more routine. Continue giving consumers cheaper alternatives at the pump, or take them away.”

“At this 11th hour, it is critical that the millions of Americans who have benefited from the RFS — from farmers to businesses that serve ethanol industry workers, to consumers – to tell the EPA what’s at stake for them if Big Oil’s bottom line is put ahead of rural America. If you ask the taxpayers, Big Oil gets enough special treatment from Washington already – they don’t need another giveaway,” concluded Woodhouse.

REG Biodiesel Conference Video Series

REG Biodiesel TrendsThe Renewable Energy Group (REG) has produced a series of videos from the 2014 National Biodiesel Conference called Biodiesel Trends.

Biodiesel Trends is a video news series that will recap the conference. You can watch short video interviews with key presenters as they discuss industry trends and topics, meet some of the industry’s up-and-coming researchers, learn about federal and state policy updates; and take a virtual ride in the latest diesel-powered vehicles.

Here is one of them:

Biodiesel Ride & Drive

Chevy CruzeYou can ride or drive a brand new diesel vehicle at the 2014 National Biodiesel Conference today. Not only conference attendees but the general public.

There are four vehicles outside the San Diego Convention Center from Hino, Ford, General Motors and Jeep. I chose the Chevy Cruze and rode along and made a little video clip with my Google Glass. It will give you an idea of what the experience is like.

There are lots of new photos in our online album now too:
2014 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album