Republican Candidates: ‘We Can Fix America’

The battle cry of the presidential Republican candidates is to fix America through debt elimination, military strength and cooperation. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham took the stage during the Des Moines Register’s Soapbox and spoke to thousands of people at the Iowa State Fair. While the crowd is supposed to be polite, manners took a back stage during Walker’s remarks especially when he said, “If we can fix a state like Wisconsin we can fix America.”

The candidates want to take the power out of Washington, D.C. and bring it back to the state houses and to the hard working people. Walker, somewhat in jest, said Washington is 68 square miles surrounded by reality. Let’s take a look at what the candidates believe is reality.

Scott WalkerScott Walker is calling for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be reigned in. He said they are killing the farmers (he was referring to WOTUS, or the Waters of the U.S.) and is pushing for an all above energy strategy. He approved the Keystone Pipeline on the first vote and continues to do so. In terms of climate change he said that there needs to be a balance between sustainable environment and a sustainable economy. He does not support the “ethanol mandate” or the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) but because it is in place and there is an industry based on the legislation the country needs to support the bill. However, he is pushing for consumer choice at the pump through market access and availability at the pump for higher blends of ethanol. His state has offered grants for retail stations, especially those independently owned, to be able to put flex fuel pumps and offer additional ethanol blends.

Listen to why Wisconsin Governor wants to be president here:Scott Walker at the Iowa State Fair

Lindsey GrahamLindsey Graham spent the majority of his time discussing his military strategy. He said there are, “Too many terrorists. Too much debt. Too few jobs.” He has been in the Air Force for 33 years and spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan while he was in the reserves. He stressed that he is the first candidate to push to go back to war not end war. “If I’m elected we going to go back and pound them into the sand,” he said of Iraq. He did not address energy, environment or agriculture so we’ll have to continue to follow his campaign to see if and what his stance is on these issues.

Listen to why Senator Lindsey Graham wants to be president here:Lindsey Graham at the Iowa State Fair

Carly FiorinaWhile some candidates didn’t use any of their time to take questions, Carly Fiorina dedicated the majority of her time in answering questions. Like others, she believes the minimum wage should be increased but not uniformly; rather, the pay should be comparable to the cost of living which is different not only from state to state but from city to city. She too took aim at the EPA and stressed innovation rather than regulation will be more effective. And like Walker, she too doesn’t support ethanol mandates and believes they should be phased out. Needless to say, this position is not too popular in country’s largest ethanol producing state. Similar to Graham, she did not directly address agriculture or the environment.

Listen to why Carly Fiorina wants to be president here:Carly Fiorina at the Iowa State Fair

Click here to read our coverage of the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair.

Portland Int’l Airport Adds EV Charging

Portland International Airport (PDX) has become the airport with the largest number of electric vehicle (EV) chargers in the country. PDX installed 42 L1 PowerPost EV charging stations that are designed and manufactured by Telefonix. EV drivers are able to recover about 5 miles of range for every hour they are plugged in. The range lost in a typical commute of twenty miles is recovered in about 4 hours at a cost to the facility of less than 75 cents. The PowerPost EV charging stations will be free to use for employees and visitors.

“This installation makes a huge statement,” said Bill Williams, business development manager for Telefonix, EVSE Division. “The electric vehicle movement is gaining steam and will continue to do so. Facilities like PDX are acknowledging this growing community and sending a signal that they support those who are embracing electric vehicles by installing stations for both airport employees and travelers.”

Telefonix Inc. (PRNewsFoto/Telefonix Inc.)

Telefonix Inc. (PRNewsFoto/Telefonix Inc.)

According to Telefonix, Portland International Airport chose PowerPost level 1 electric vehicle charging stations for their integrated, retractable cord reel, which keeps cables off the ground, reducing maintenance and tripping hazards. They were also selected because they are level 1 units, which have low current requirements and allow for an efficient use of energy. Level 1 charging is well suited for long-dwell parking that is typical at airports and workplaces. In addition, the low-current requirements of level 1 also allowed the airport to install more charging stations as compared to more powerful chargers that often require costly upgrades to the electrical supply.

“We are excited to support our travelers and employees with these new EV charging stations,” said Vince Granato, Port of Portland chief operations officer. “Voted America’s Best Airport in 2013, 2014 and 2015 in Travel + Leisure’s Reader Survey, we take pride in delivering a memorable and positive experience to those who use our facilities. The installation of EV charging stations is one of our many environmental initiatives, which are central to how we do business and serve as good community stewards.”

Williams added, “Airports are really taking an aggressive approach to delivering on the need for electric vehicle charging infrastructure,” “Given that customers parking for 4 hours or more represent over 85% of all occupied spaces at an airport and the fact that airports often have sustainability initiatives in place, it’s a perfect fit.”

Geothermal May be Africa’s Energy Solution

Representatives from 12 African countries gathered in Nairobi recently to discuss the feasibility of establishing the Africa Geothermal Centre of Excellence (AGCE). The center would work to improve the continent’s institutional and infrastructural capacities including bringing and training geothermal scientists an engineers.

Oklaria Geothermal Plant in Kenya.

Oklaria Geothermal Plant in Kenya.

Around 600 million people in Africa lack access to grid electricity, with the number expected to rise to 700 million by 2030. As a result, the continent is increasingly looking to alternative energy sources to bridge that gap especially geothermal opportunities. With an estimated potential of 20,000 MW, geothermal energy could provide an answer to the continent’s energy shortage.

The majority of the potential energy source remains largely untapped in part due to a lack of skilled workforce. AGCE would address this issue and become the vehicle to training a talented geothermal energy workforce and thus open the doors to sustainable geothermal development.

During the workshop, the attendees reviewed a feasibility study that catalgoues the region’s needs and potential for geothermal. In addition, the group also created AGCE’s vision and developed its long-term sustainability.

The meeting was organized by the United Nation Environment Programme’s (UNEP) African Rift Geothermal Development Facility (ARGeo) and brought together country representatives, African governments, development partners, donors, civil society, private developers, technical institutions and academia. AGCE is expected to be established in Kenya, which is the main hub for geothermal technology on the continent, with a natural laboratory and a major geothermal agency.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Twenty teams have successfully navigated the first technology gate of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Wave Energy Prize to become official qualified teams. The 20 qualified teams, selected from the field of 92 official registered teams announced on July 6, will continue their quest to double the energy captured from ocean waves and win a prize purse totaling more than $2 million. Click here to see the qualified teams.
  • RGS Energy, one of the nation’s leading rooftop installers of solar equipment, has received notification from NASDAQ that it has regained compliance with NASDAQ Marketplace Rules. “This compliance with NASDAQ standards is the outcome of recent financial transactions which have returned the company to positive stockholders’ equity and positive working capital,” noted Dennis Lacey, CEO of RGS Energy. “We have now refocused our turnaround efforts on revenue growth by expanding our sales and construction capabilities.”
  • On Friday, August 14th, as part of the celebration of the 10-year anniversary of America’s Renewable Fuel Standard, Fuels America released a video, “Voices of the RFS,” featuring farmers, entrepreneurs, and rural Americans who discuss what the RFS means to them and their communities. Interviews are from the Rally for Rural America in Kansas City.
  • CalEnergy, a subsidiary of BHE Renewables, executed a contract with the Imperial Irrigation District to provide Imperial and Coachella Valley residents and businesses with 50 megawatts of renewable geothermal energy through 2029. CalEnergy is leading the efforts that promote geothermal procurement in the state of California to enable a reliable electrical grid.

Poll Finds Biodiesel Matters

A new poll commissioned by the Iowa Biodiesel Board finds that 76 percent of voters in Iowa widely support expanding the Renewable Fuel Standard to increase biodiesel use in the U.S. The poll comes out during the Iowa State Fair where presidential hopefuls are taking the Des Moines Register Soapbox and speaking to the crowd. The majority of voters surveyed also said a presidential candidate’s view on the RFS is important to their vote.

biodiesel pumpGrant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, said a candidate’s support for renewable fuels should be a central campaign issue, both in Iowa and beyond. “Growing a diverse, domestic energy supply is one of the most critical challenges our nation faces. “There are many foreign security threats today, which only strengthen the argument for domestic fuel production. The RFS has helped us move in that direction, but it’s a policy constantly under threat. Where the next president stands on this matters to voters.”

The IBB has reached out to several campaign leaders, inviting candidates from both parties to tour one of the state’s 12 biodiesel plants. The group plans to share the voter data with the campaigns.

Kimberly added, “As a sustainable, commercially available advanced biofuel with economic and environmental benefits, biodiesel is a shining success in what America’s innovative farmers and small business community can achieve in energy production.”

Santorum, Sanders Miss Energy Boat, Chafee Pro Hydro

There are a lot of candidates vying to be the next president of the United States floating around the Iowa State Fair, but for being in Iowa, many are missing the boat on two very important issues to the state – energy and agriculture. This weekend, presidential candidates Rick Santorum, former U.S. Senator of Pennsylvania (Republican); Lincoln Chafee, former Governor of Rhode Island (Democrat); and Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator from Vermont (Independent running for the Democratic nomination) all pushed their economic and military agendas as part of the Des Moines Register Soapbox series while laying low on other major issues. Let’s recap their remarks.

Rick SantorumRick Santorum touted his military expertise by noting that “no one in this race has the record I do on national security”. If elected, he will defeat ISIS and how he will do this is being explained in his 2020 Perfect Vision for the Future. Like George Pataki (R-NY) he wants to cut corporate taxes. Santorum was silent on renewable energy, agriculture and climate change.

Listen to why Rick Santorum wants to be president here:Rick Santorum at the Iowa State Fair

Bernie SandersBernie Sanders had quite the crowd and has set himself apart as being the only candidate to speak on the soapbox so far who wants to expand social security. He plans on doing this by lifting the cap on taxable income. Several other hot button issues: make all higher education free; overhaul campaign finance; end racism by bringing about major reform in the criminal justice system; equity pay for women in the workforce; and economy – “We need an economy that works for working people”.

And, climate change is real. He said, “When we talk about our responsibilities, as adults, as parents, as citizens of this Earth, we have a moral responsibility to make certain that we leave this planet in a way that is habitable for our kids and grandchildren. The debate is over. Climate change is real. Climate change is caused by human activity. Climate change is already causing devastating problems in our country and around the world. What the United State must do, and I will do as president, is lead the world in working with other countries to transform our energy system.”

Listen to why Bernie Sanders wants to be president here:Bernie Sanders at the Iowa State Fair

Lincoln ChafeeLincoln Chafee believes that when electing legislators, voters need to look at past performance, character and vision. He told the crowd that while he was governor, he worked to curb climate change; fought for marriage equality; made investments in education a priority; and helped to lead the nation in the rollout of Obama Care. In terms of national security, he will work hard to end wars if elected saying, “Prosperity comes with peace”.

While he didn’t address renewable energy during his remarks, he did answer the question on his stance on renewable power for rural America. His answer: hydropower. He was part of a group who worked with Canada to bring hydropwer down to the northeast. He stressed that it is reliable, affordable and clean and needs to have a more prominent position in the energy discussion. He also supports other forms of renewable energy including geothermal, wind and solar.

Listen to why Lincoln Chafee wants to be president here:Lincoln Chafee at the Iowa State Fair

None of the candidates specifically addressed the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) this time around. But at some point all candidates in the race will have to discuss their position to win the state’s nomination- Iowa is the leader in biofuels production including ethanol and biodiesel and has been leading several campaigns to save the RFS.

Click here to read our coverage of the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair.

Republicans Carson, Pataki on the Soapbox

Republican presidential hopefuls Dr. Ben Carson and former New York Governor George Pataki took the Des Moines Register Soapbox during the Iowa State Fair this weekend with a common message of reducing America’s debt.

Ben CarsonDr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, focused much of his remarks on personal stories yet engaged the crowd with lessons learned. For example, he said, “The person who has the most to do with what happens in life is you.” Smart words from a smart man. His big campaign focus, though, is that the country is in the process of destroying the future of the next generation in part because both Democrats and Republicans are “blowing up the budget”. He stressed the real problem is the fiscal gap – program needs that don’t meet needed funding – or unfunded liabilities (Medicare, Social Security).

The closest he came to addressing energy was when he spoke about the importance of the arts in education and when he was growing up if he said Van Gogh, the response was, ‘add gas and the van will go’. All joking aside, in the first Republican debate he said, “I would probably be in favor of taking that $4 billion a year we spend on oil subsidies and using that in new fueling stations’ for 30 percent ethanol blends.”

Listen to why Ben Carson wants to be president here:Ben Carson at the Iowa State Fair

George PatakiPataki stood strong on both economy and the military. He was the NY Governor during 9-11 and said “we must shut down ISIS”. He wants to give “the power back to the people”. He wants to throw-out the corrupt tax codes, reduce the government workforce by 15 percent and lower tax rates for small business and families.

He also said he is the only candidate that grew up on a farm. “I don’t have a plane. I have three tractors. In fact, I was out on a tractor last week moving hay.” He spent most of his life living on a farm and he, his wife and family farm today in upstate New York. “Great, but what does that does it mean? It teaches you values,” stressed Pataki.

Pataki didn’t discuss energy so voters who care about the issue will need to keep an ear to the ground in future months to learn more about his stance on renewable energy in America.

Listen to why George Pataki wants to be president here:George Pataki at the Iowa State Fair

Click here to read our coverage of the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair.

RFA to EPA: Provide Consumers Relief at Pump

In light of a refinery shutdown of the BP plant in Whiting, Indiana that produces 240,000-barrels-per-day, the Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen is asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide consumers relief at the pump. Late last week, gas prices jumped an average of 80 cents per gallon overnight in several states including Illinois, Michigan Indiana, Ohio, Missouri and Wisconsin as well as other states including Iowa.

BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana. Photo Credit: GasBuddy.com

BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana. Photo Credit: GasBuddy.com

“The Whiting refinery outage demonstrates, once again, the folly of relying too heavily on one source of motor fuel. It’s worth noting that the refinery represents just 6 percent of the Midwest region’s refining capacity (and just 1 percent of national refining capacity); yet retail gas prices in some Midwest markets have spiked by 50 cents per gallon or more,” said Dinneen. “This is exactly why we need to further diversify our nation’s fuel supply and allow more renewable fuels by removing arcane barriers erected by the oil companies and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Using more low-cost ethanol would absolutely help insulate consumers from these kinds of price shocks.”

Dinneen said that the total lost gasoline output, nearly 120,000 barrels per day, could be offset by increasing ethanol blends from E10 to E15. He sourced ethanol prices in the Chicago wholesale market as around $1 per gallon lower than gas. It should be noted that during the summer months, E15 is only allowed to be used by flex fuel vehicles although the rest of the year the ethanol blend can be used by all vehicles manufactured in 2001 or newer.

“That means, Dinneen said, “if refiners and blenders serving the Midwest market immediately switched to producing E15 to blunt the impacts of this refinery outage, gas prices would instantly fall by at least 5 cents per gallon and drivers in the Midwest would save about $6 million per day. In reality, the price impacts would likely be even more significant, as ramping up ethanol blending would immediately take the pressure off tightening gasoline stocks and ease wholesale gasoline prices.”

Dinned added, “EPA and the Obama Administration have all the tools they need to help alleviate this situation quickly. We call on EPA to immediately waive RVP requirements for E15 and also allow E12 blending—based on the fact that it is substantially similar to E10—in the Midwest region to facilitate expanded ethanol blending and blunt the consumer impacts of this refinery outage.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Consumers Energy is moving forward with plans to add new sources of renewable energy in Michigan, launching its community solar program called Solar Gardens. Solar Gardens is the first program of its kind for Consumers Energy, and customers will be able to participate.
  • Solar3D, a provider of solar power solutions and the developer of a proprietary high efficiency solar cell, has announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire 100% of Elite Solar, a Durham, California-based solar systems provider. The purchase is a continuation of Solar3D’s aggressive growth-by-acquisition strategy, which is intended to boost the company’s top line revenue as well as operating earnings.
  • The SunPower facility in Mexicali, Mexico, that produces Cradle to Cradle Certified Silver solar panels has earned Landfill-Free Verification from NSF Sustainability, a division of the global nonprofit public health organization NSF International. With this recognition, SunPower continues to establish its sustainability leadership by demonstrating that 99 percent of the waste generated from the company’s operations in Mexicali is diverted from landfills. The facility is also the first of any industry in Mexico to be third-party verified as landfill-free.

API Releases “Flawed Study”

A new published study from the University of Michigan and funded by the American Petroleum Institute (API) finds that when using annual basis carbon (ABC) accounting, corn-ethanol is not better than its petroleum counterpart. ABC accounting uses spatially and temporally explicit analysis of the direct greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) exchanges between the atmosphere and a physical vehicle-fuel system. LCA is the analysis of the environmental impact of a product from cradle to grave, or in the case of liquid transportation fuels, “well to wheel”.

Michigan-API biofuels studyThe study abstract states that using an ABC case study of a corn ethanol biorefinery and the farmland that supplies it shows that using the ethanol it produced instead of gasoline provided no significant reduction in GHG emissions, in contrast to an LCA result that found a 40% GHG reduction for the same facility.

In response to the recent study Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, said, “We can add this study to the ever growing pile of flawed research funded by Big Oil, who has a vested interest in protecting its monopoly on our nation’s fuel and ensuring that America stays addicted to oil. The standard life-cycle assessment tool accepted by the scientific community, Argonne National Laboratory’s GREET model, shows that ethanol reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 34 percent compared to gasoline. No amount of self-serving science will change the fact that in addition to reducing GHG emissions, ethanol also reduces our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and the price of gasoline for America’s drivers.”