Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) have introduced legislation aimed at helping to efficiently bring ethanol to communities across America by giving pipeline owners the same tax benefits they receive for moving petroleum products.
The tax code currently states that Publicly Traded Partnerships are supposed to earn 90-percent of income from the exploration, transportation, storage or marketing of depletable natural resources like oil, gas and coal. The Harkin-Lugar bill would change the tax code so that these Publicly Traded Partnerships can earn qualified income from the transport, storage or marketing of any renewable liquid fuel approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Harkin says the bill “makes a simple change to the tax code that meets the demands and realities of the 21st century energy marketplace, removing barriers so that biofuels producers in the Midwest and elsewhere will have an efficient, inexpensive way to transport these renewable fuels to the market.” According to Lugar, “Overcoming problems in moving ethanol through pipelines, as Brazil has done, is important in developing the full promise of America’s renewable fuels.”
Race cars in the Land Down Under will be running on 85 percent ethanol next year.
Australian media sources report that V8 Supercars chairman Tony Cochrane announced on Sunday that all cars in the main V8 series and the Fujitsu Development Series will run on E85 made from sugar cane for at least five years starting in 2009.
“We want to be a leader in the area of emissions and renewable resources – we don’t want to be a follower,” Cochrane said. “Our job is educational. We want to show if we can run it in our cars, maybe it’s a consideration for the average motorist.”
Team Ethanol has teamed up with Driver’s Edge, a nonprofit organization that travels the country teaching teens defensive driving techniques for free.
Driver’s Edge was prominently displayed on the No. 17 Team Ethanol car, driven by 2008 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year and 2008 Watkins Glen winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, during Sunday’s IndyCar® Series Honda Indy 200 in Mid-Ohio. Team Ethanol finished 10th in the race, making Hunter-Reay now ninth in this year’s standings.
Reece Nanfito, senior director of marketing for the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC), says they teamed up with Driver’s Edge because each year nearly 6,000 teens are killed in car accidents, making car crashes the number one killer of America’s youth. “Through hands-on education, they are teaching young drivers how to safely handle a car, while providing information so they make good renewable fuel choices at the pump,” said Nanfito.
Driver’s Edge president Steven Tepper says being featured on the No. 17 Team Ethanol car is a great opportunity to draw attention to their effort. “Most people have no idea that the number one killer of young Americans ages 16 to 24 is motor vehicle collisions,” said Tepper. “With the proper behind-the-wheel instruction, these are avoidable tragedies, and that’s what Driver’s Edge is all about.”
Driver’s Edge provides a free educational program for young drivers taught by true driving professionals through a unique combination of behind the wheel and classroom experiences. Check driversedge.org to find out where the Drivers Edge National Tour will be the rest of this year
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report on biofuels policies out this week claims that that biofuel production “has a limited impact on reducing greenhouse gases and improving energy security, and has a significant impact on world crop prices.” However, an analysis of the findings indicates the opposite.
According to a review of the report by the Renewable Fuels Association, the “OECD data does not support the conclusions of the report or a call by OECD officials for a moratorium on biofuels.”
For instance, OECD credits ethanol produced from corn starch with a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas
(GHG) emissions if using natural gas, and a 50% reduction in GHG if the facility is powered by biomass.
Based on this finding, a moratorium is not warranted.
In addition, the modeling included in the report suggests that a 28% drop in world oil prices would cause a 12% reduction in world coarse grain prices ($0.75 per bushel in the case of corn today), underscoring the fact that skyrocketing oil prices are the largest driver behind increasing grain prices. By contrast, removing biofuel mandates like the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) would reduce coarse grain prices by just 1% ($0.06 per bushel of corn). Even abandoning all biofuels policies would only yield an average coarse grain price reduction of 7% ($0.45 per bushel).
Read the RFA review here.
Dow Chemical Company will work with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to develop and evaluate a process to convert biomass to ethanol and other chemical building blocks.
The partnership will evaluate a mixed alcohol catalyst from Dow that could hold potential for making cellulosic ethanol more commercially viable. “NREL is interested in reducing the cost of biofuels in support of the nation’s energy goals,” NREL Director Dan Arvizu said. “Dow’s catalyst technology and expertise in catalyst development and testing will be extremely helpful as we evaluate the viability of this approach on a larger scale.”
The joint evaluation program will focus on improving the mixed alcohol catalyst, as well as demonstrating pilot scale performance and the commercial relevance of an integrated facility.
Royal Dutch Shell is nearly doubling its investment in cellulosic ethanol.
Shell announced this week that it is increasing its shareholding in Iogen Energy Corporation from 26.3% to 50%. Shell first took an equity stake in 2002. The terms of the agreement include a significant investment by Shell in technology development with Iogen.
Iogen’s first demonstration commercial plant opened in Ottawa in 2004. Shell is considering investing in a full-scale commercial cellulosic ethanol plant and is contributing to Iogen’s detailed feasibility and design assessment work.
Missouri corn growers say repealing the state ethanol standard would be a costly mistake.
The CEO of the Missouri Corn Growers Association says that while recent political proposals claim repealing the statewide ethanol standard would lower fuel and food prices, the effect would be quite the opposite.
“Simple economics dictate that increasing supply helps reduce price,” said Gary Marshall. “Utilizing a fuel produced and refined in Missouri is part of the reason our state has some of the lowest gas prices in the nation.”
The Missouri Renewable Fuel Standard requires gasoline to be blended with 10 percent ethanol when ethanol is cheaper than conventional gasoline. This price provision means ethanol cannot increase the cost to consumers, Marshall said.
He notes that blaming ethanol for skyrocketing food and fuel costs is not supported by the facts. According to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, while households are facing a 23 percent increase in their total food costs, they are facing a 335 percent increase in their gasoline costs since 2002.
“If fuel prices had increased at the same rate as food, we would only be paying $1.39 per gallon for gasoline,” Marshall says. “And while grocery bills are going up due mainly to increasing transportation, labor and marketing expenses, Missouri’s food costs remain inline with other neighboring states.”
The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded grants of up to $40 million over five years for two small-scale cellulosic biorefinery projects, one in Wisconsin and one in Louisiana.
Flambeau River BioFuels received approval to construct and operate a biorefinery at an existing pulp and paper mill in Park Falls, Wisconsin. When completed, the facility will produce at least 1 trillion BTUs of renewable energy for the host mill and 6 million gallons of transportation (sulfur-free diesel) fuels per year, which the company says will make it the first integrated pulp and paper mill in North America to be fossil fuel free. The biorefinery is expected to be operational in 2010.
Verenium received the second grant which will be used to support ongoing activities at its 1.4 million gallon per year demonstration-scale facility in Jennings, LA.
Verenium president and CED Carlos A. Riva said, “Government support such as this is a great help in advancing the development of commercially viable biofuels, and supports the rapidly emerging cellulosic ethanol industry in addressing America’s urgent need for alternative fuels.”
These two biorefinery projects are the final round of selections for DOE’s competitive small-scale biorefinery solicitation. Earlier this year, DOE selected seven other projects, comparable in size and scope, to receive up to a total of $200 million.
By a margin of 2 to 1, American voters believe increasing the use of renewable fuels like ethanol should continue, according to a new poll conducted by the Democratic firm of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies.
The survey of 1,200 registered voters conducted June 23 – July 1 also revealed that nearly half of Americans believe that skyrocketing gasoline and fuel prices are the factors most responsible for rising food prices.
According to the survey, asked if they favor or oppose continuing to increase use of ethanol, 59 percent come out in favor, while just 30 percent opposed. Support is even higher (63 percent) among environmentalists. “Men and women, older voters and younger voters, high school educated and college graduates, and voters from all regions in the country support this alternative fuel,” said the survey analysis. Most impressive, however, is that both Democrats and Republicans polled agree on the increased use of ethanol.
The survey was commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association. “Overwhelming broad, bipartisan support for increasing the use of ethanol clearly shows that coordinated efforts designed to demonize American farmers and ethanol producers are not having the desired affect,” said RFA president Bob Dinneen. “Americans see through the smoke and mirrors, weigh the merits of both sides, and conclude that ethanol is an important component of our nation’s energy future.”
DuPont recently received confirmation from an independent sources that its ethanol yield calibration system really works.
The external independent validation came from the Illinois Crop Improvement Association (ICIA), which demonstrated that the Ethanol Yield Potential (EYP) near infrared (NIR) calibration does reliably predict the ethanol output of whole corn grain. The calibration, developed by DuPont business Pioneer Hi-Bred, allows ethanol plants to rapidly and consistently evaluate incoming grain, helping both plant managers and growers determine which corn hybrids and management practices can improve ethanol production.
“Rapid determination of EYP of corn can be a valuable step in improving ethanol plant efficiency,” said Dennis Thompson, ICIA chief executive officer. “ICIA recognizes the need for rapid measurement tools based on standardized reference lab methods. Our initial validation procedures have shown a strong correlation between the Pioneer EYP calibration and our laboratory method.”
The calibration has been incorporated into the QualiTrakSM system from Pioneer, a measurement and reporting program that facilitates the flow of ethanol yield information to both plant personnel and corn growers. The technology allows ethanol producers to use analytical data to manage the corn grain feeding for their ethanol production process through rapid analysis and grading at the point of grain receiving. Farmers are then able to take this information and combine it with their on-farm agronomic performance data to tailor the corn hybrids they plant and apply management practices to maximize the ethanol yield on every acre.