Corn Growers to Protest EPA’s Ethanol Cuts

rallyforruralamerica1Corn farmers are going to make their voice heard on the Obama Administration’s cuts to ethanol. The National Corn Growers Association says producers from more than a dozen states are expected to turn out at a public hearing and rally in Kansas City, Kansas, this Thursday, protesting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to slash nearly 4 billion gallons of corn ethanol from the Renewable Fuel Standard through 2016.

“Last time, we were very clear to EPA about what we wanted,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling. “It is simple: EPA should follow the statute. For farmers and others in rural America, this new EPA proposal means low corn prices and ethanol plant and industry cutbacks. And for everyone, it means higher gas prices and dirtier air.”

All farmers who can make the trip are encouraged to attend the hearing and public rally, with free bus transportation provided from several points across four states – Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. The buses are scheduled so growers can depart and return the same day, and free food and refreshments will be provided.

A rally in conjunction with the public hearing will kick off at 11:30 a.m. at nearby Huron Park, with several prominent agriculture, business and political leaders talking about the importance of renewable fuels for rural America.

RFA Supports American Agri-Women

AAW Drive TruckThe ethanol industry is supporting women in agriculture. The Renewable Fuels Association and Syngenta, maker of ethanol friendly Enogen corn, join a growing group of sponsors of the American Agri-Women Drive Across America. The nation’s largest coalition of farm, ranch and agri-business women, is celebrating 40 years of advocating for agriculture with its “Drive Across America.”

AAW President Sue McCrum and other leaders will drive in a specially wrapped pick-up truck, participating in educational, network and advocacy events hosted by AAW’s more than 50 affiliates. The Drive will finish at the 2015 annual convention in Portland, Maine.

Better Switchgrass Makes for Better Biofuel

switchgrassWhile switchgrass is seen as a good candidate for biofuels, the challenge has been producing it in the quantities of biomass yield to make it worth the effort. But this story from the American Society of Agronomy says researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture are looking at ways to make the plant more biofuel friendly.

[Michael Casler, a research geneticist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service,] and others are trying to [make a better switchgrass for biofuels] by using alternative breeding methods. Zulfi Jahufer is a senior research scientist in genetics and plant breeding at the AgResearch Grasslands Research Centre in Palmerston North in New Zealand, and was a co-researcher with Casler.

But achieving their goals isn’t easy. The ideal switchgrass wouldn’t possess one trait, but many. It would have a high amount of biomass per acre and be able to produce a lot of ethanol. It would also have low levels of lignin, a material found inside plants that prevents maximum ethanol production…

When the ideal plant would contain more than one important trait, it’s inefficient to select for them one at a time. To combat this issue, and breed switchgrass that has the optimal combination of these traits, the researchers tried evaluating plants using the Smith-Hazel Selection Index.

This index allowed the researchers to estimate and combine information on multiple traits. It also looked at the economic value of each trait, which further maximizes the rating.

The researchers say the next step needed to meet their goals is to use the protocols in an actual breeding program. They will begin to employ the best selection indices over the next few generations to obtain a more ideal switchgrass.

This research was recently published in the journal Crop Science.

ACE Opens August Conference Registration

ACElogoRegistration for the American Coalition’s for Ethanol’s (ACE) conference has opened, with “Quiet Ingenuity, Bold Advance” the theme for the Aug. 19-21 event. This news release from the group says it’s the 28th annual gathering for ACE and will be held in Omaha, Nebraska.

“One of the best kept secrets of the ethanol industry is how producers are boldly innovating, developing new co-products, and finding ways to improve their bottom line without fanfare. This is an important time for the industry and pivotal topics will take center stage at our upcoming conference,” said ACE Executive Vice President Brian Jennings.

One panel discussion which will reinforce the “Quiet Ingenuity, Bold Advance” theme features Ray Defenbaugh, President, CEO & Chairman of Big River Resources LLC, Delayne Johnson, CEO of Quad County Corn Processors, and Jeff Oestmann, President & CEO of East Kansas Agri-Energy, LLC who will discuss the technology and advanced biofuel innovations their respective companies are pursuing.

Quad County Corn Processors is the first ethanol plant in the nation to produce both conventional and cellulosic biofuel, East Kansas Agri-Energy is constructing a renewable diesel facility adjacent to its existing corn ethanol plant, and Big River Resources will be producing a zein protein alongside its ethanol plant in Galva, IL.

There will also be a retailer panel on E15 and flex fuel sales, a report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on fueling infrastructure, exports of ethanol and DDGs, plant board member training, and much more at this year’s conference. Registration information is here.

GROWMARK FS Joins Propane Days at Capital

NPGAMembers of the GROWMARK and FS System were recent participants in the National Propane Gas Association’s (NPGA) 2015 Propane Days at the nation’s capital. This news release says the members were educated regarding affairs and legislation that affects the propane industry and how to be actively involved in its development.

“The Propane Days conference was a great opportunity to work with dedicated FS and GROWMARK experts as well as the Illinois Propane Gas Association. It was a privilege to work together and with our legislators toward the common goal of promoting propane as a clean, alternative fuel of choice,” explained Kevin Johnson, energy specialist with Heritage FS, Inc.

Attendees had the opportunity visit with their Congressional representatives to encourage the extension of key tax provisions, equalization of taxes on propane, and parity of propane relative to other auto fuels. The event also provided networking opportunities with other industry colleagues throughout the nation and a discussion with PERC staff to learn more about the national Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) efforts.

“I feel the Congressional visits will reward the industry for years to come. The visit to PERC was such an eye opening experience which yielded great information. I can’t wait to share my new found knowledge with my team back home,” said Chris Olson, LP and retail marketing manager with Illini FS.

Iowa RFA Polls Show Importance of RFS

IowaRFAlogoNew polls from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) show support for the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and those presidential candidates friendly toward the RFS. This news release from the group says the RFS and renewable fuels will be key issues for Iowans in the 2016 general election.

The poll, conducted by The Tarrance Group, shows “Iowa voters have an exceptionally favorable view of ethanol, with 72 percent favorable and only 11 percent unfavorable,” stated Tarrance Group President and CEO Ed Goeas. “This is virtually a universal opinion across geography and voter groups. Not a single subgroup of the electorate fails to hold a majority favorable opinion.”

Additionally, the poll results find that 57 percent of Iowa voters are less likely to support a candidate for public office who opposes an increase in ethanol use through the RFS. Similarly, 56 percent of voters oppose EPA’s recent proposal to reduce the RFS. Goeas noted, “Amazingly, not a single subgroup of the electorate favors this action.” He added, “[O]ur findings indicate that once voters hear the facts, the coalition against this is likely to grow.”

Meanwhile, this news release from the group shows that the top five Republican presidential candidates in the state are all backers of the RFS, with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker leading the pack with 19 percent, followed by Ben Carson at 13 percent, Jeb Bush at 11 percent, Marco Rubio at 9 percent and Mike Huckabee at 8 percent.

“As we have seen in other credible surveys of Republican caucus goers, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker continues to set the pace in Iowa,” stated TheIowaRepublican.com Editor-in-Chief Craig Robinson. “In one way or another, each the top five candidates in the poll have either publicly expressed support of leaving the current RFS in place or have backed an infrastructure grant program that would help ensure that consumers are allowed choice at the gas pump. These are vital issues to Iowa’s economy and it should no surprise that the 2016 candidates who understand the importance of renewable fuels issues are in the top tier of the poll.”

Schroeder to Participate in Bioenergy 2015

bio2015Domestic Fuel’s own Joanna Schroeder will be part of next week’s U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Bioenergy Technologies Office’s (BETO) eighth annual conference “Bioenergy 2015: Opportunities in a Changing Energy Landscape.” She’ll be in Washington, D.C., moderating the session titled, “Reaching Your Stakeholders: Effectively Engaging and Educating Key Audiences,” on the second day of the June 23-24 conference.

This session focuses on demonstrated communication strategies and tactics to engage and educate key audiences—such as the general public, communities, policy makers, and investors—on bioenergy. Panelists, through a facilitated discussion, will provide attendees with unique insights, success stories, and best practices and lessons learned that improved public perception of bioenergy at local, regional, and national levels.

About 600 participants are expected to attend the conference, including key stakeholders from the bioenergy industry, Congress, national laboratories, academia, and the financial community. Some of the other issues they’ll discuss include:

– Impact of changing oil prices
– Vehicle/fuels co-optimization
– Future of the Renewable Fuel Standard
– Environmental benefits of biofuels
– Innovative technologies and emerging pathways
– U.S. manufacturing in a global marketplace.

Check out the full agenda here.

PERC Promotes Alt Fuels for Emergency Vehicles

PERCThe Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) has joined a national task force promoting the use of alternative fuel in emergency vehicles. PERC says the task force has a two-year program to educate emergency managers about alternative fuels.

The Initiative for Resiliency in Energy through Vehicles is one of 11 projects funded by the Department of Energy Clean Cities program to accelerate the growth of the alternative fuel vehicles market. The National Association of State Energy Officials was awarded $800,000 in grant funds to administer the project. PERC will work with NASEO and 17 other member groups to provide emergency fleet managers with customized tools, information, and strategies about alternative fuel vehicle technologies, infrastructure, and their uses in emergency scenarios.

The task force’s resources will help emergency managers examine the potential costs, benefits, and interdepencies associated with diversifying their fleets, reducing dependence on petroleum, and increasing their energy security.

“Alternative fuels are very important for the emergency response sector,” said Roy Willis, PERC president and CEO. “Diversifying a fleet’s fuel source insulates it from petroleum market volatility and mitigates the impact of supply disruptions. It’s all about ensuring that priority fuel users can continue to operate in the face of natural disasters, major fuel source disruptions, and extreme weather events.”

PERC has been a heavy investor in the creation of propane-powered technologies, and that has led to a dramatic expansion in the types of available propane vehicles, including those used by emergency response fleets.

BIO to Put Innovation in Name

bio-logoSame acronym… new innovative meaning. The Biotechnology Industry Organization… better known as BIO will soon become the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. This news release from BIO says the change is to highlight the scientific innovation the group brings.

“I’m pleased to announce that the BIO Board has approved a change to BIO’s name… from the Biotechnology Industry Organization to the Biotechnology Innovation Organization,” said BIO’s new Board Chair, Ron Cohen, CEO of Acorda Therapeutics. “Still BIO, but now with a name that better expresses the essence of what our member companies represent.”

BIO’s President and CEO, Jim Greenwood added, “This is a great move that will help clarify for policymakers and the public the heart of our industry – scientific innovation that will help to heal, feed and fuel the world. Each day, our members use cutting edge science and technology to deliver game-changing products, therapies and cures to improve the human condition.”

The new name will be launched in early 2016.

Clinton Campaign Announcement Highlights Biofuels

hillary-2016Hillary Clinton seems to understand the importance in courting the biofuels vote, especially in Iowa, as she officially kicked off her presidential campaign. America’s Renewable Future (ARF) noted her support for advanced biofuels as part of making America a clean energy superpower.

“…We will make America the clean energy superpower of the 21st century [by] developing renewable power—wind, solar, advanced biofuels; building cleaner power plants, smarter electric grids, greener buildings; using additional fees and royalties from fossil fuel extraction to protect the environment,” said Clinton at the New York rally.

“Sec. Clinton has shown great insight and leadership on the issue of advanced biofuels and she clearly understands that renewable fuel is a key component of a 21st century energy policy,” said former Lt. Gov. and ARF Co-Chair, [Democrat] Patty Judge, “Renewable fuel supports over 852,000 American jobs, reduces our dependence on foreign oil, and gives consumers cleaner, less expensive choices at the pump.”

“We are grateful for her recognition of the role biofuels can play in our energy development, but the key to success for advanced biofuels is a partnership with first generation biofuels,” added Judge, “We invite Sec. Clinton to tour a plant and learn how we only fulfill the promise of advanced biofuels by having a strong corn ethanol industry.”

Clinton had recently penned an op-ed for the Cedar Rapids Gazette calling to get the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) back on track.