Poll Shows African Americans Back Climate Action

According to a new poll released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and GREEN FOR ALL, two-thirds of African Americans believe global warming is a serious program and want more action to curb its effects. This group also supports the Clean Power Plan (CPP), finalized in August, as a tool to address the climate crisis while 83 percent of respondents back setting the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from coal-and gas-fired power plants under the CPP. In addition, a strong majority of African Americans believe that as the nation drives down dangerous carbon pollution it can drive up the use of clean energy including wind and solar energy.

African American Climate PollThe survey also found that the move to clean energy will create new jobs – six times the proportion that believes it will results in job losses- and 57 percent believe the expansion will reduce their energy costs.

Mark Davis, CEO of minority-owned WDC Solar, said this morning during a conference call releasing the poll results, “I am a Green For All Climate Champion, and renewable energy and energy efficiency are two pillars of our plan for low-income communities to lower the cost of energy, create green jobs for low-income residents, and improve the environment. The Clean Power Plan can accelerate an increase we’ve already seen in African American participation in clean energy and can enhance economic empowerment in low-income communities.”

Davis was joined on the call with Adrianna Quintero, director of Partner Engagement at NRDC; Vien Truong, national director, GREEN FOR ALL; and Rev. Stacey Edwards-Dunn of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ. The speakers stressed that the African American community has been directly affected by the effects of climate change. Rates of childhood asthma have increased 50 percent between 2001-2009 and 68 percent live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant.

“The African American community has been hard hit by injustice, from violence against young people to disproportionate environmental harms from pollution, so it’s no surprise the community wants action. It’s time to hold polluters accountable and fight the pollution that causes climate change,” said Quintero.

Listen to the poll release press conference here: African American Climate, Clean Energy, Poll Presser

Here are some key energy findings of the report: Continue reading

Cellulosic Biofuels Celebrated at DuPont Plant Opening

DuPont cellulosic grand openingNevada, Iowa is officially home to the world’s largest cellulosic ethanol biorefinery with the official plant commissioning. When the DuPont facility is at full production, in about a year, it will produce 30 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues such as corn stover.

The celebration was kicked off with the National Anthem sung by music legend Simon Estes followed by nearly a dozen speakers. The first to take the stage was William Freehery, president, DuPont Industrial Sciences who discussed the theme of DuPont’s advanced biofuels production: “RE. FORM. ENERGY”. Freehery focused his remarks on how the company is changing the way the world thinks about biofuels. He explained how their technology is “reforming” how energy is produced and in the future and how they will “reform” ways to create new materials, “reform” new ways to use them and “reform” new ways to produce them.

“What is significant about today is that we’ve reinvented manufacturing itself,” said Feehery. “Feeding renewable biomass into a commercial scale industrial facility. We’ve also reinvented how we think of and supply energy, and our next act will be reinventing how we turn those same agricultural feedstocks into to new types of materials that people use everyday.”

Also speaking was an individual who came to Nevada to turn the dream of cellulosic ethanol production into reality: Terraun Jones, operations manager. He was lured to Iowa on the platform of his fascination of turning agricultural waste, something Iowa has too much of, into biofuel and bioproducts. When he arrived, his first task was to create the foundation for the plant -the pouring of concrete and adding steel. “It was not just the foundation of our facility, but it was the foundation of an entirely new industry and renewable energy,” said Jones.

Photo: Joanna Schroeder

Photo: Joanna Schroeder

Event speakers included: Host: Jan Koninckx, Global Business Director, DuPont Biofuels; Simon Estes; William Feehery, President, DuPont Industrial Biosciences; Honorable Terry Branstad, Governor, State of Iowa; Honorable Kim Reynolds, Lieutenant Governor, State of Iowa; Honorable Chuck Grassley, U.S. Senator, State of Iowa; Honorable Steve King, U.S. Representative, State of Iowa; Honorable Bill Northey, Secretary of Agriculture, State of Iowa; Terraun Jones, DuPont Employee Representative; Honorable Lynn Lathrop, Mayor, City of Nevada; Dr. Johnathan Male, U.S. Department of Energy;  and Brian Sampson, Grower Harvest Program.

Listen to the full program here: DuPont Cellulosic Biorefinery Welcome Program

NBB’s Jobe Talks State of Biodiesel

The National Advanced Biofuels Conference kicked off last week with a heated discussion about the state of advanced biofuels in the U.S. with a focus on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Following the panel I had a chance to speak with Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board NBB) who was joined on the panel by Micheal McAdams, President of the Advanced Biofuels Association, and Monte Shaw, Executive Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

Beltway Update Panel at Advanced Biofuels Conf 2015Jobe said the panel was heated because biodiesel represents the only commercially available, nationwide advanced biofuel in the market today. He made reference to one group who said that the RFS is no longer the solution but has become part of the problem. “We are very much opposed to the sentiment,” said Jobe. “We believe biofuels groups need to stay together and not segment and bash each other.”

The RFS is poised to get on track despite two years of stumbling said Jobe. The final RVOs (renewable volume obligations) are due from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by the end of November and Jobe said at least then the industry will have some guidance. It will also aid their argument that increasing the biomass based diesel and advanced biofuels categories will help strengthen the RFS overall. He’s optimistic.

Jobe also stressed the need to get the biodiesel tax incentive reauthorized and put in place for the next few years. In addition, he spoke about one of the topics that will be of great interest in their upcoming conference in Tampa, Florida at the end of January: the next level of discussion on energy policy and that’s carbon policy.

Listen to my interview with NBB’s CEo Joe Jobe here: Interview with Joe Jobe, NBB

American Ethanol Helps Celebrate Higher Blends

protec-usda-citgoThe American Ethanol No. 3 NASCAR display provided the perfect backdrop last week in Florida for the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership announcement that means 5,000 new higher blend ethanol pumps in 21 states.

Growth Energy co-chairman Tom Buis says the American Ethanol NASCAR racing sponsorship has proven the performance of 15 percent ethanol blends over the past five years. “Almost eight million miles have been put on the NASCAR race cars in that five year time frame and not a single problem,” said Buis as the race car revved up to be loaded back on the trailer.

Buis congratulated Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for his vision in helping to coordinate public-private partnerships to increase higher ethanol blends in the market place. “That creates competition,” said Buis. “Let the consumer make the choice. No one’s forced to buy higher blends.”

Interview with Tom Buis, Growth Energy

USDA-Protec Fuel Biofuel Pump Funding Announcement photos

Ethanol Report on Latest Industry News

ethanol-report-adThere were some big ethanol industry announcements this week, most of them good, and I caught up with Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen to get his comments on the latest news.

In this edition of the Ethanol Report, Dinneen comments on the DuPont cellulosic plant opening, how USDA and Protec Fuel are helping to increase higher ethanol blend pumps, attacks on the RFS by the oil industry and the new Fuels America campaign to fight back, and Dr. Ben Carson’s answer to an ethanol-related question during the GOP debate. Dinneen also talks about what he will be doing in the month ahead as the days countdown to the EPA’s scheduled release of volume obligations under the RFS.

Listen to this edition of the Ethanol Report here: Ethanol Report on current ethanol news

#Ethanol Blends Help Consumers and Retailers

protec-citgo-signThe price sign at the Citgo station in Kissimmee Wednesday told the real story of how higher ethanol blends can save consumers money at the pump and it helps the retailers as well.

“It’s been a great thing for us,” said Paul Przychocki of Mid-State Energy, which owns the Kissimmee station and several others. “This store is considerably up over last year, in the last 4-5 months since we put the E85/E15 combination in.”

Przychocki partnered with Protec Fuel to install the new pumps at the Kissimmee station with the help of USDA Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership funding. “This is the third site that we’ve done with Protec and every time we’ve done a site it’s taken off,” he said.

Listen to an interview with Przychocki here: Interview with Paul Przychocki, Mid-State Energy

Protec Fuel's Steve Walk, Citgo station owner Paul Przychocki, and Protec CEO Todd Garner

Protec Fuel’s Steve Walk, Citgo station owner Paul Przychocki, and Protec CEO Todd Garner

Protec Fuel CEO Todd Garner says they are happy to help retailers like Przychocki bring higher ethanol blends to consumers. “We’ve been doing this since 2006, since the original RFS, and trying to get higher blend ethanol out to our customer base,” he said. That’s why they are so pleased with the USDA grant funding announced this week in Kissimmee. “It costs the stations a lot of money and we’re fortunate that the government and USDA have taken the initiative to allow consumers to participate in lower cost, higher blend fuels,” said Garner.

Garner says continued support for the Renewable Fuel Standard is crucial to increase market penetration for renewable fuels. “It’s really important because it’s going to allow us to beat that blend wall,” he said. “I think we just need to come to a middle ground and make both sides fairly happy because ultimately the consumer is going to benefit.”

Listen to my interview with Todd here: Interview with Protec Fuel CEO Todd Garner

USDA-Protec Fuel Biofuel Pump Funding Announcement photos

Fuels America Launches New Ad Campaign

Fuels America is launching a new seven-figure TV and digital ad campaign today urging President Obama to make a choice between the oils industry and renewable fuels for the future.

fuels-americaThe campaign depicts President Obama’s choice of who to listen to when it comes to the Renewable Fuel Standard: his own experts who have repeatedly shown that ethanol and renewable fuel is dramatically reducing carbon emissions, or the oil industry, which has spent decades covering up the science and facts on both renewable fuel and climate science.

“President Obama’s choice on the Renewable Fuel Standard is clear. He can choose to listen to Big Oil’s distortions and lies, or he can listen to his own scientists who have shown that the RFS significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions,” said Brent Erickson, Executive Vice President at BIO.

“The truth is that slashing the amount of clean, domestic renewable fuel in our motor fuel supply would dramatically increase pollution and carbon emissions, while strengthening the RFS and building on the progress of the past 10 years would help in our efforts to combat climate change,” said National Corn Growers Association president Chip Bowling, a Maryland farmer.

The 30-second TV spot and digital ads are both airing in the Beltway. The campaign follows aggressive attempts by oil industry-funded special interest groups API and Smarter Fuel Future to discredit the climate benefits of renewable fuel—and as usual, their claims are false and wholly unsupported.

Listen to Erickson and Bowling announce the new campaign here: New Fuels America campaign

Funds Help @ProtecFuel Expand Ethanol Pumps

vilsack-steveWednesday was a big day for Protec Fuel as Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced funding to increase retail pumps for higher ethanol blends in 21 states through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership.

“Now it’s finally official,” said Protec Fuel VP of Operations and Business Development Steve Walk. “The funds will be dispersed to the respective states, projects can start and they’re going to be done by the end of next year. The fuel industry is really going to change in the next 12 months.”

In Florida, where Protec is based, that means an additional 150 retail pumps offering E15 and/or E85 for motorists. Nationwide, it amounts to some 5,000 additional stations in 21 states.

Listen to my interview with Steve here: Interview with Steve Walk, Protec Fuel

USDA-Protec Fuel Biofuel Pump Funding Announcement photos

USDA Announces Biofuels Infrastructure Funds

vilsack-protecAgriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was at a Citgo station in Kissimmee, Florida today to announce a USDA partnership to increase fueling pumps for biofuels in 21 states through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP).

The investment will nearly double the number of fueling pumps nationwide that supply renewable fuels to American motorists. “The Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership is one more example of how federal funds can be leveraged by state and private partners to deliver better and farther reaching outcomes for taxpayers,” said Vilsack.

The 21 states participating in the BIP include Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The final awards being announced today are estimated to expand infrastructure by nearly 5,000 pumps at over 1,400 fueling stations.

Vilsack was joined by representatives from Growth Energy and Florida-based Protec Fuel to make the announcement. “We’re very excited about this USDA program because we’re going to be opening up sites in other parts of Florida, as well as across the country,” said Protec Fuel VP of Operations and Business Development Steve Walk. “What this program is going to help us do is help speed up the growth” of stations offering higher ethanol blends.

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis congratulated Protec Fuel and thanked Secretary Vilsack for his support of renewable fuels. “The Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership is helping us to further leverage industry funds to gain measurable market access in a far timelier manner than we could accomplish otherwise,” said Buis.”

Listen to remarks from Walk, Buis and Vilsack here: Secretary Vilsack announces biofuels infrastructure funding

Vilsack remarks to the media: Secretary Vilsack comments on Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership

USDA-Protec Fuel Biofuel Pump Funding Announcement photos

AWEA Report: Wind Energy Momentum Continues

The momentum of wind power in the U.S. has continued through the third quarter and continues to post strong numbers. This according to the new U.S. Wind Industry Third Quarter 2015 Market Report released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). More than 1,600 MW of new wind capacity was installed during Q3 increasing the yearly total to more than 3,600 MW installed.

Wind_works_fb_final (2)The top states with wind power capacity additions include Texas with 771 MW, Oklahoma with 398 MW, Kansas with 201 MW and Illinois with 175 MW. This quarter Kansas has jumped to 6th place and is continuing to build additional capacity. The industry is seeing stronger market activity as compared to this time last year, and given the construction activity in Iowa, the state is on pace to surpass California and become the second-ranked state behind Texas in installed capacity by the end of this year.

“We are on the cusp of greatness,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “There are over $20 billion worth of wind farms under construction right now, creating well-paying jobs and spurring economic development in rural communities across the country. This growth is in jeopardy however, as continued policy uncertainty could throw the wind industry off yet another economic cliff.”

Despite the growth in the industry, there still remains uncertainty. While the U.S. Senate Finance Committee voted in May to pass the tax extenders package that included the extension of the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit, it has yet to be passed by Congress. Wind projects currently under construction are due to in part to the construction extension of the Production Tax Credit that occurred at the end of 2014.

In 2015, the wind industry has installed more than double the MW installed during this time frame in 2014. There is now over 69,470 MW of installed wind capacity across the U.S. – edging closer to the 70 gigawatt (GW) threshold. A near-record of more than 13,250 MW of wind capacity is under construction in the U.S., with an additional 4,100 MW in advanced stages of development.

Listen to the press conference here: U.S. Wind Industry 3rd Quarter Report Launch

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