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

VoteVets Expands RFS Ad Campaign

VoteVets has expanded its television campaign in support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The ads began in Iowa earlier this month and have now expanded into Nebraska. The ads are also airing in Washington, D.C.

The ad airing in Nebraska features Iraq War Veteran, Michael Connolly, making the case that gutting the Renewable Fuel Standard would allow for a greater flow of oil dollars to our enemies, who use that money for weaponry that has targeted our troops.  Connolly, who served in Iraq from 2007 to 2008, lived in Glenwood, Iowa from 2010 to 2012, and now lives just across the border, in Nebraska.

The ad in Omaha opens with a massive explosion in front of a military convoy. Connolly says, “War is dangerous. I know. I was there.  Now, people ask me all the time how they can support the troops.”  Holding a yellow ribbon, Connolly says, “By putting one of these on your car?  Sure…”  And then in front of an ethanol gas pump, “By putting this in your tank?  Even better… More renewable fuels, like the kind grown here in Nebraska, means we use less foreign oil. And that means less money for our enemies.  But the oil companies are trying to kill renewable fuels.”

The ad in Iowa also features Connolly and begins with a massive explosion in front of a military convoy.  Connolly says, “I did two tours in the Middle-East…and let me tell you, I saw a heck of a lot, like how billions in oil profits found their way to some of the same terrorists we were fighting against. Investing in renewable energy like the kind here in Iowa can help stop that.  It means more American jobs and less oil money going to enemies who threaten our national security. Tell the EPA to stand up to Big Oil…don’t cut the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

VoteVets Launches RFS TV Campaign

VoteVets.org has launched a new television ad in Iowa aimed at protecting the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The ad will also be aired in Washington D.C. where hundreds of biofuel supporters have flown to the beltway in the last few months to meet with legislators in support of the clean energy and jobs legislation.

The TV ad features an Iraq War Veteran, Michael Connolly, making the case that gutting the RFS would allow for a greater flow of oil dollars to America’s enemies, who use that money for weaponry that has targeted our troops. Connolly, who served in Iraq from 2007 to 2008, lived in Glenwood, Iowa from 2010 to 2012, and now lives just across the border, in Nebraska.

The ad opens with a massive explosion in front of a military convoy. Connolly says, “War is dangerous. I know. I was there. Now, people ask me all the time how they can support the troops.” Holding a yellow ribbon, Connolly says, “By putting one of these on your car? Sure…” And then in front of an ethanol gas pump, “By putting this in your tank? Even better… More renewable fuels, like the kind grown here in Iowa, means we use less foreign oil. And that means less money for our enemies. But the oil companies are trying to kill renewable fuels.”

The facts, say VoteVets.org back up Connolly’s words. Although the United States often does not directly buy oil from hostile nations, like Iran, America’s dependence on oil drives up demand, and prices of oil on the world market, which benefits all oil-rich nations. Those oil dollars allowed Iran, for instance, to produce and ship Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs) to Iraqi insurgents, who used them to target American troops.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates for every one billion gallons of ethanol produced, 10,000 to 20,000 jobs are added to our domestic economy. According to the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the ethanol Industry supports around 55,000 jobs in Iowa, and accounts for $5.4 billion of Iowa’s GDP. Gutting the RFS, says VoteVets,org, would threaten the development of next generation biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol plants in Iowa scheduled to start operation next year. Rather than using kernels of corn, these advanced plants will make the fuel from the “biomass” of various low-value plant material including corn stalks and wood chips.

VoteVets.org is collecting petition signatures from everyday Americans who want to see America reduce its dependence on foreign oil, protect our troops, and create jobs.

Ethanol’s Story

The Missouri Corn Growers Association has produced a video that tells “the greatest story never told” – Quiet Revolution: The Ethanol Story.

Like the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and all state corn grower groups, the Missouri Corn Growers are urging their members and others to submit comments on the Environmental Protection Agency proposal made November 15 to cap corn-based ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply this year at 13 billion gallons. “This may be the most significant challenge to corn farmers in many years. Your community and your industry are counting on you to stand up and be heard today.”

The comment period on the proposal is open until January 28.

Renewable Fuels Topic at Senate Primary Forum

IMG_20131219_143610_334On the sixth anniversary of the signing of the expanded federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) into law, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) hosted a renewable fuels forum for Iowa’s leading Republican candidates seeking the GOP nomination to run for U.S. Senate in 2014. The seat is currently held by U.S. Senator Tom Harkin who is retiring after this term.

Forum Moderator and IRFA President Rick Schwarck began the event by stating, “The goal of the [RFS] is to reduce petroleum imports, enhance consumer fueling choices at the pump, boost the rural economy, and reduce the environmental impacts of petroleum-based fuels.” Schwarck then asked both candidates, “If elected to the U.S. Senate, would you support maintaining the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) with no legislative changes?”

The legislation has spurred the growth of the biofuel industry and helped to reduce the use of foreign oil but is the industry in is jeopardy with the Environmental Protection Agency’s current proposed renewable fuel volumes under the 2014 RFS. For the first time in six years, volumes are proposed to decrease rather than increase as the statute stipulates.

The forum was held at the Western Iowa Tech Community College Cherokee Campus Auditorium. State Senator Joni Ernst, Matt Whitaker and David Young were also invited to participate in the forum, but all three candidates declined the opportunity.

Save The RFS Ad Debutes in Iowa

A new “Save the RFS” television ad is now running throughout Iowa, a key state in Presidential elections. The ad was produced by Americans United For Change (AUFC) who says while Big Oil is advertising to elites in the DC market, they are playing at the heart of the country where real people and their lives and livelihoods are at stake. The ad is aimed at all those who know the benefits from the RFS – from farmers, ethanol industry workers, secondary industries, surrounding economies, as well as American consumers – urging them to tell the EPA to do what’s best for rural America, not Big Oil’s bottom line.

While Big Oil is at war with farmers and rural communities and has called for the repeal of the RFS – AUFC says they are out to save the RFS for the good of our economy and our environment. In addition through the SavetheRFS website, VoteVets will recruit people to become part of a team who will help communicate the importance of renewable fuels to Americans as well as to local, state and federal legislators.

Brad Woodhouse, president of AUFC said of the RFS, “The industry that brought us the Gulf oil spill loves the new RFS rule as it stands and would love nothing more than to keep rural America quiet until the ink is dry. That’s why it’s incredibly important that Americans in the heartland make their voices heard, because the strength in numbers of those who benefit from the RFS can beat Big Oil’s deep pockets.”

“If this misguided EPA rule is made permanent, the ripple effect cannot be overstated. As the family farmer and ethanol industry goes, so goes the positive growth we’ve seen in rural economies since the RFS was established, so goes the hundreds of thousands of American jobs that have been created, so goes the availability of fuel 70 cents cheaper whole sale than gasoline, so goes the billion dollars American consumers save every week, so goes the gains made in combating climate change and reducing dependence on oil from unstable regions overseas,” continued Woodhouse.

“Big Oil knows if they’re successful at eliminating their cheaper, cleaner competition, then anything goes when it comes to prices at the pump – even if it means sending more of our troops, and money and jobs overseas.”

EPA RFS Proposal: A Slap in the Face of Vets

Darrell Rakestraw joined the military in 1982. A local boy who grew up on a centennial farm near Annawan, Illinois, he served his country in the army for nearly 20 years before retiring and moving back home with his family.

Darrell Rakestraw

Veteran Darrell Rakestraw signs the Support the RFS We the People petition that he created on behalf of Patriot Renewable Fuels. He encourages everyone who believes in energy security to help fight the good fight and sign the petition.

During the time he was stationed in Germany, he came home on leave and heard everyone talking about how America was fighting for oil.

“As a solder I found that hard to believe that we were fighting for oil,” said Rakestraw. “I thought we were fighting for a cause – for an injustice being done to Kuwait at that time.”

After retiring in 2002, he continued to support American troops until he retired and began his second career: working for the local ethanol plant Patriot Renewable Fuels. Rakestraw said heralding from a farm, agriculture and ethanol were very tied together.

Then on November 15, 2013 his view of why America is at war changed. This is the day the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its 2014 proposed renewable fuel volumes for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Rakestraw said this is the moment he realized that America is in fact fighting for oil. “This proposal is now telling me it is the truth. So is that what we’ve been fighting for all this time?”

“I look at it like a slap in the face for me as a veteran,” continued Rakestraw. “To every veteran out there. For all the men and women who are still serving. And I really think that Big Oil is dancing on the graves of all the soldiers who sacrificed their lives. It’s a wrong decision to make. We have to get less dependent on foreign oil. This really woke me up.”

He knows that other veterans feel the same way as he and is encouraging people to fight for the RFS. On behalf of Patriot Renewable Fuels, Rakestraw created a WhiteHouse.gov “We the People” petition in support of the RFS, and encourages everyone who believes in this fight to sign the petition.

“We’re doing this for our soldiers. We’re doing this for our farmers. We’re doing this for our rural economies. We’re doing this for ethanol supporters and ethanol producers,” said Rakestraw who stresses that if the proposed 2014 RFS rule passes, it will a huge, negative effect on both the biofuels industry as well as the ag industry.

When asked what it was that he really wants Americans to know right now Rakestraw answered, “They need to realize we will continue to commit our mothers and fathers and our sons and daughters to wars in foreign lands. They may claim its in the name of humanity, but a lot of time it’s in the name of Big OIl.”

“And we’ve got to stop that.”

Check out the Patriot Renewable Fuels Photo Album.