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 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 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. 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 “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.

Navy Looks to Vets for Alt Energy Future

Navyboat1Veterans might be the next tool in the U.S. Navy’s quest to find alternative energy. This Office of Naval Research (ONR) news release says the service is highlighting the Energy Systems Technology Evaluation Program, or ESTEP, providing student veterans with internships in Navy organizations using advanced technologies.

“Finding reliable, alternative sources of energy is an essential component of naval strategy moving forward,” said Dr. Richard Carlin, director of the Sea Warfare and Weapons Department at ONR. “ESTEP uniquely places student veterans interested in engineering and technology into working internships, where they gain hands-on skills and experiences as they advance energy research for the Navy and Marine Corps.”

Examples of such work include evaluation of smart grid and solar energy use at Camp Pendleton; development of cyber-secured energy management systems; enhancing wind-resistant rooftop photovoltaic panels; and more.

The program kicked off last year, and is a partnership between ONR, San Diego State University (SDSU), SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific, the Naval Postgraduate School and the Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center.

Check out the video titled “Warrior Power: ONR, Education and Energy” below that talks about how SDSU’s program was a natural fit for the ESTEP partnership, as its Troops to Engineers program is specifically designed to help student veterans find productive internships and future employment.

ABFA Launches Stories of Clean Energy Companies Videos

The Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA) is playing a key role in fighting for the sanctity of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). According to Michael McAdams, president, despite misinformation being thrown about during the recent debate over the RFS, drop-in and cellulosic biofuel technology is moving from the laboratory to reality – and ABFA members are designing, purchasing and building the commercial plants needed to supply America with advanced fuels from renewable sources.

Already this year, several ABFA members are producing renewable gallons qualifying as advanced and/or cellulosic under the RFS. Meanwhile, many other companies are either breaking ground or plan to have commercial plants in operation by 2015.

ABFA has launched a series of videos to tell the stories of this clean energy transition from the perspectives of the companies producing renewable gallons and breaking ground on new facilities. Some of the featured companies include Sundrop Fuels, Sapphire Energy and Amyris.

Ethanol – The Complete Fuel Wins Awards

The Union of the Industry of Cane Sugar Association’s (UNICA) “Ethanol – The Complete Fuel” has won four awards including the Sponsor of the Year for 2013 during the 17th Annual Brazilian Association Rural Marketing and Agribusiness. The country-wide campaign was designed to educate consumers about the benefits of ethanol. The association has also called upon the government to assist with this educational campaign.

We want to recognize the effort made ​​by the entire sugarcane industry, who made this campaign a reality and achieved significant results. The campaign was spearheaded by UNICA with strong engagement with its affiliates, but had important additional support from several plants that are not our affiliates and entities that helped expand the reach of the campaign said UNICA President Elizabeth Farina. Three associations – the Alcopar, Paraná; the Sifaeg; and Siamig Goiás, Minas Gerais – invested its own funds in the campaign and rolled it out in their respective states.

In addition to receiving the award for the UNICA Advertiser of the Year for 2013 in agribusiness, Farina delivered a special tribute for ABMR & A to honor former Agriculture Minister Roberto Rodrigues. He was recognized for his leading role in building the movement Am Agro, which among other elements, conducted an advertising campaign in 2011 in favor of agribusiness, which had as protagonists actors Lima Duarte and Giovanna Antonelli. UNICA was the main supporter of the Movement am Agro.

The Borghi/Low , the agency that developed the campaign “Ethanol, Complete Fuel,” also received several achievements during the awards, including the Agency of the Year in agribusiness in 2013, for their work on behalf of UNICA and the Box Economica Federal, another client of the agency.

We want to give our appreciation for the efforts of all UNICA professionals, Borghi/Lowe and other service providers, which directly contributed to the success of the campaign. It was an intense job that lasted over a year and is now getting due recognition added Farina. And we can not forget the excellent work of Lúcio Mauro Filho, who is a true ally of ethanol.

Renewable Fuels Video Contest: Enter Now

The 4th Annual “Fuel the Future” video contest has been official kicked off by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA). The high school student contest is seeking the best student-produced video promoting the use of ethanol, E15 and/or biodiesel. The top three video entries will receive prizes in the amounts of $1,000, $600 and $400 respectively; will be aired at the 2014 Iowa Renewable Fuel Summit on January 28; and will be featured on IRFA’s YouTube channel.

“The IRFA is excited to announce the launch of the 4th Annual ‘Fuel the Future’ high school video contest,” said IRFA Communications Director T.J. Page. “With new fueling options like E15, and interest in renewable fuels continuing to grow, we can’t wait to see how Iowa high school students promote renewable fuels to today’s motorists.”

Need some inspiration? Then look no further than last year’s winning video.

The “Fuel the Future” contest is limited to students currently attending high school (grades 9-12 in a public, private or home school) in Iowa. Video entries may not exceed two minutes in length and must be submitted to IRFA via DVD, flash drive, or secure web link. All completed video entries must be received in the IRFA office by January 16, 2014, to be considered for the contest. For more information, including the official entry form and contest rules, please visit the IRFA website. IRFA also extends a sincere thank you to the law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels for sponsoring this contest for the fourth consecutive year.

Bob Greco’s Greatest Hits

The fight over the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was not in recess during the government shutdown and the accusations and arguing are ratcheting up in fervor this week as the introduction of new anti-RFS legislation is pending as well as a Dear Colleague letter being circulated by Representative Bob Goodlatte sent to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is causing a DC mud slinging competition.

In the midst of all the heat, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) has said that some statements “cry out” for correction. For example, they created a “fact check” video of comments made by American Petroleum Institute’s (API) Bob Greco during his recent interview with Monica Trauzzi of E&E TV. IRFA has coined the video: Bob Greco’s Greatest Hits Volume 1 and 2 and promise more to come.

ShockWave Reactor Helps Biodiesel Efficiency

A new video demonstration is showing how the new ShockWave Power Biodiesel Reactor (SPR) is making production of the green fuel more efficient. Hydro Dynamics, Inc. (HDI) posted the video to show how its product will make the transesterification process go better.

Although not a complete replacement for seeing the technology in person, video is becoming commonplace on the web to demonstrate technology and quickly convey information to customers. Our other SPR cavitation videos have been viewed over 750,000 times showing everything from simple cavitation bubbles to gas-liquid mixing to an ethanol extraction animation

The ShockWave PowerTM Reactor (SPR) is manufactured by Hydro Dynamics, Inc., a world leader in process intensification reactors. Together with World Energy, Hydrodynamics, Inc. offers reactor systems to the biodiesel industry for every size of plant and the expertise in biodiesel processing necessary to implement ShockWave PowerTM Reactor in any new or existing biodiesel production facility. With over 500 million gallons of annual reactor capacity now sold, the ShockWave Power Reactor is setting a new standard for efficient biodiesel production.

More information is available on the company’s biodiesel page.

Crowdfunding Campaign to Connect Schools to Solar

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has launched a unique crowdfunding campaign to support a new initiative to help schools purchase and install rooftop solar systems. The crowdfunding campaign – a first for NRDC – initially seeks to raise $54,000 through the site Indiegogo to help three to five to-be-determined schools move forward with solar rooftop projects. At least one of the locations will be selected by contributors to the campaign, who can vote on the city of their choice.

As part of the campaign, NRDC also is developing an online platform that local schools can use to navigate the pathway to obtain solar power. The site will detail state and local rules regarding solar power installations across America, and connect schools and communities with organizations and experts that can support them each step of the way.

“Our ultimate goal is help every school that wants solar power to get it,” said NRDC renewable energy policy director Nathanael Greene. “If we can hold fundraisers for field trips and sports teams, we can do the same to get our schools on solar. Switching to clean, renewable solar energy helps the environment and the health of our local communities, but also helps schools to cut energy expenses and funnel the savings to other programs.”

The benefits to local schools and students can be substantial. In California, for instance, the Firebaugh-Las Deltas United School District was able to reinstate a music program for 2,300 students after installing solar on its schools, thanks to an estimated $900,000 in energy cost savings. Students also get a first-hand look at how solar energy works, and a real life lesson on why science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is important.

“Numerous organizations and programs – mainly through utilities – are putting solar panels on schools,” said Jay Orfield, environmental innovation fellow in NRDC’s Center for Market Innovation. “What’s different about our program is that it aims to make solar an option for any school, anywhere, by beginning with local school administrators, parents, teachers, students and communities and giving them the tools to they need to make solar power a reality.

NRDC is partnering with several other organizations on the campaign, including The Solar Foundation, Community Power Network, Bonneville Environmental Foundation (Solar 4R Schools) and Three Birds Foundation.

World’s Largest Advanced Biofuels Plant Opens

Today marked the official opening of what is believed to be the world’s largest operational, commercial scale advanced biofuels facility. Situated in the fields outside the city of Crescentino, Italy, Beta Renewables, part of the Mossi Ghisolfi Group, along with Novozymes celebrated the first plant to be designed and built to produce bioethanol from agricultural residues and energy crops as commercial scale using enzymatic conversion. The advanced biofuels plant features Beta Renewables’ PROESA™ engineering and production technology alongside Novozymes’ Cellic® enzymes.

“The advanced biofuels market presents transformational economic, environmental and social opportunities, and with the opening, we pave the way for a green revolution in the chemical sector,” said Beta Renewables’ Chairman and CEO, Guido Ghisolfi. “We will continue to commercially expand Beta Renewables’ core technology throughout the world, and we are very confident at this stage given the demand we see around the globe.”

“The opening today presents a leap forward and is truly the beginning of a new era for advanced biofuels,” says Peder Holk Nielsen, CEO of Novozymes. “Here, at this plant, enabled by Novozymes’ enzymatic technology, we will turn agricultural waste into millions of liters of low-emission green fuel, proving that cellulosic ethanol is no longer a distant dream. It is here, it is happening, and it is ready for large-scale commercialization.”

The plant uses wheat straw, rice straw and arundo donax, a high-yielding energy crop grown on marginal land. Lignin, a polymer extracted from biomass during the ethanol production process, is used at an attached power plant, which generates enough power to meet the facility’s energy needs, with any excess green electricity sold to the local grid.

At the inauguration, Guido Ghisolfi and Peder Holk Nielsen were joined on the ground for the celebrations by Italy’s Minister for Economic Development, Flavio Zanonato, and representatives from the European Commission, as well as more than 500 global stakeholders.

During the event, both companies stressed that with the technology ready at commercial scale, it will be vital to create stable and conducive policy conditions worldwide, to harvest better the vast opportunities in cellulosic ethanol and advanced biofuels. Continue reading

Absolute Energy Hosts New Holland Ethanol Producers Club

Nearly 200 area farmers attended a New Holland American Ethanol Producers Club event Wednesday at Absolute Energy, an ethanol biorefinery located near Lyle, Minnesota.

schwarkThe event, which was the 12th held at ethanol plants around the country this year, was designed to introduce producers who provide corn for the plant to the partnership between New Holland, Growth Energy and American Ethanol that offers equipment discounts. It also encouraged those farmers to communicate with their members of Congress the importance of maintaining the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association – they’re working tirelessly every day in support of agriculture and the ethanol industry,” said Absolute Energy president and CEO Rick Schwark. “But there’s nothing like the grower talking to his congressman. It really does have an impact.”

Absolute Energy is a 125 million gallon per year ethanol plant on the Iowa-Minnesota border. Schwark says they additionally produce about 350,000 tons of distillers grains and 4.5 million gallons of corn oil annually – and they help boost the local economy. “We started in 2006, we’re owned by 470 local residents – 75% of those folks are farmers – we’ve had great economic success here and we’re very proud that those economic dollars are staying here in our local community,” he said.

Listen to or download my interview with Rick here and watch the video below of his remarks at the event: Interview with Rick Schwarck, Absolute Energy

New Holland American Ethanol Producers Club photo album