Jeb Bush Kicks off Fair Speech on Energy

Republican Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and presidential hopeful, kicked off his time on the Presidential Soapbox promoting his support of renewable energy and agriculture. Florida has a huge agriculture community and is home to one of the first advanced cellulosic facilities, Ineos Bio located in Vera Beach, that began production in May of 2013. The plant uses wood, plant and landfill waste. And this May, the Advanced Disposal plant began producing gas-to-energy from the emissions created by the Sarasota County, Florida landfill.

Bush began his Jeb Bush at Presidential Soapboxremarks by focusing on an America in decline. But unlike his predecessors, he enveloped his support of two of Iowa’s largest industry’s – renewable energy and agriculture – at the very beginning of his talk rather than waiting until he was asked by an Iowa State fairgoer his stand of the two issues.

Bush noted that the EPA, through its Clean Air Act, “will stifle the ability for industry to be created and agriculture to work leading the world”. “We have serious, serious problems,” continued Bush. “We need to embrace the energy revolution, and be energy secure with North American resources in a short period of time with American ingenuity, American innovation and American technology.”

Listen to why Jeb Bush wants to be president here:Jeb Bush at the Iowa State Fair

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

Dems Webb & O’Malley Take the Soapbox

Democratic hopeful presidential candidates Jim Webb and Martin O’Malley both appeared on the Des Moines Register’s Presidential Soapbox yesterday afternoon speaking to hundreds of Iowans attending the Iowa State Fair. They have some fundamental issues in common, including both the need for better education and to bring the American dream, aka the economy, back to Americans. While Webb’s plans to do so were a bit more fluid, O’Malley pitched his 15 point plan to American prosperity. This includes tackling climate change and fostering global sustainably development.

Jim Webb at Presidential SoapboxIn terms of energy Jim Webb supports agriculture and renewable energy. He supports the pipeline and says that reports show environmentally the pipeline is neutral. He said he supports an “all above” energy strategy and that includes nuclear energy. He noted America has the safest, best managed nuclear program in the world and it is “totally” clean.

When asked if he supported the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) he replied that he supported renewable energy. He said Iowa is the perfect example of a place where it can work. He has visited a wind farm and an ethanol plant and said he was impressed with the technological advancements seen in the ethanol industry.

To learn more about why Jim Webb wants to be our next president listen to his speech here: Jim Webb at the Iowa State Fair

Martin O'Malley at Presidential SoapboxDuring the question and answer portion of the speech, O’Malley was asked about renewable energy, in particular the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan. He advocates for a clean energy grid by 2050 that he says will be “just in the nick of time”. He noted that in Iowa, 30 percent of electricity not only comes from wind energy, but highlighted the fact that multiple wind turbine components are manufactured in the state as well. He touted Hawaii’s goal of 100 percent renewable electricity and California’s 50 percent goal.

O’Malley also stressed that Renewable Energy Portfolios (REPs/RES) and the RFS should not only stay in place, but they should be expanded. He stressed that these are the drivers of American ingenuity in technology development and the next generation of clean energy technologies.

To learn more about why Martin O’Malley wants to be our next president listen to his speech here: Martin O'Malley at the Iowa State Fair

Mike Huckabee on the Soapbox

Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas (the state of the Clinton’s), took the soapbox this morning as the kick-off candidate of the Des Moines Register’s Presidential Soapbox series taking place during the Iowa State Fair. He was the winner of Iowa’s 2008 Republican Caucuses. Now back to the Clintons for a moment. Huckabee worked and fought and campaigned against them for many years and said he won, then noted, “I hear Hillary Clinton could not come. She will email in her appearances”.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee addresses the crowds on the Presidential Soapbox during the Iowa State Fair.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee addresses the crowds on the Presidential Soapbox during the Iowa State Fair.

Since this is a site about alternative energy, I will be focusing my reporting on his views (and other candidates as well) on this issue. However, I will throw in some of his campaign platform issues as well.

For Huckabee, these are getting America back on a solid economic, security and moral ground. Through his “fair tax” he wants to bring manufacturing jobs back home and enable companies to build the products that are created in our own country competitively. He wants our military to be so strong, “nobody around the globe ever wants to pick a fight with us’. He wants to dismantle the IRS and bring frugal spending back to Congress. He noted, “We spend our campaign money like you wish the government spent your tax money. We try to be frugal.”

In terms of the biofuels and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), he said he is a big supporter. Why? Because our government made a promise to the farmers and those in the biofuels industry. “The government came to American farmers and asked them to engage in a process,” said Huckabee. To pull out disrupts an economy. He said the government made a promise to farmers and the renewable fuel industry and pulling out “just messed up people who trusted their government”. He feels the same about how veterans and those on social security and Medicaid are also being treated.

In closing, Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey encourages everyone, including presidential candidates, to #GetYourAgOn at the Iowa State Fair.

To learn more about why Mike Huckabee wants to be our next president listen to his speech here: Mike Huckabee at the Iowa State Fair

USDA Predicts Big Corn and Soybean Crops

USDAUSDA is forecasting the third largest corn crop on record and the second largest soybean crop in a new planted acreage update released today.

U.S. growers are forecast to produce 13.7 billion bushels of corn this year, according to the report from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). That is actually a four percent decrease from last year’s production, but if realized will be the third largest production on record. The numbers are up 156 million from the July projection, with the season’s first survey-based corn yield forecast at 168.8 bushels per acre, 2.0 bushels higher than last month’s projection.

Overall, the report says that growers nationwide planted 88.9 million acres to corn, unchanged from the June estimate. As of August 2, 70 percent of U.S. corn was reported to be in good or excellent condition, three percentage points below the same time last year.

U.S. soybean growers are now forecast produce the second largest crop on record although one percent less than last year. NASS forecasts U.S. soybean production of 3.92 billion bushels with a yield of 46.9 bushels per acre, which would also be the second largest on record, down 0.9 bushels per acre from the record set in 2014. Growers are expected to set new record-highs in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Virginia.

The new World Agricultural Supply Demand Estimate also released today increased usage of corn for ethanol from 5.225 million bushels to 5.250 million and lowered the average corn price estimate for the year five cents to $3.35-3.95 per bushel. “With the lower prices, domestic demand should kick up,” said analyst Jack Scoville of the PRICE Futures Group during the Minneapolis Grain Exchange call on the report. “Which will make ethanol that much more attractive in the corn … definitely should help biofuels consumption.”

MGEX Crop Call with Jack Scoville

MN Soy Helps Bring Bioheat Awareness to Midwest

Bill Zurn is a farmer from Minnesota who grows soybeans, corns and sugar beets. Last fall he had a chance to go out to the bioheat tour in New York City where they explained why they use Bioheat, a biodiesel blended oil commonly used for heating homes and buildings in the northeast. He said the port authority is also a user of biodiesel in their vehicles.

bill-zurnZurn said they realized they should invite the group to Minnesota so they could visit some biodiesel plants and soybean farms and learn about how the state makes the biodiesel that is ultimately blended into fuel and Bioheat. This event is the Biodiesel and Bioheat Forum, sponsored by the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council.

While, Zurn noted the Midwest is not a big user of the heating oil due to lack of concentration in homes, the demand in the northeast continues to grow and he and other growers in Minnesota and helping to meet that demand.

The event is taking place August 19, 2015 in Mankato, Minnesota. Event panelists include: Paul Nazzaro- President of the Nazzaro Group, he represents organizations pursuing commercial market acceptance for their specific fuels; John Huber- President of the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA); and Michael C. Trunzo- President of Northeast Public Affairs, LLC., a government affairs, lobbying and association management firm.

Registration is still open. To learn more about the event listen to Chuck Zimmerman’s interview with Bill Zurn: Bill Zurn Talks Biodiesel & Bioheat Forum

Celebrating a Decade of Success with the RFS

2005-energy-billAugust 8, 2015 marks the 10th anniversary of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) containing the original Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) being signed into law by President George W. Bush.

The signing ceremony took place at the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where President Bush noted that the bill he was signing into law would “…lead to greater diversity of fuels for cars and trucks. The bill includes tax incentives for producers of ethanol and biodiesel. The bill includes a flexible, cost-effective renewable fuel standard that will double the amount of ethanol and biodiesel in our fuel supply over the next seven years. Using ethanol and biodiesel will leave our air cleaner. And every time we use home-grown fuel, particularly these, we’re going to be helping our farmers, and at the same time, be less dependent on foreign sources of energy.”

ethanol-report-adRenewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen remembers that day very well, particularly the support that the new law had from the oil industry. “It would not have happened without the support of the American Petroleum Institute,” said Dinneen. “They wanted out of MTBE, they wanted to have an argument in court that would protect them from the lawsuits against MTBE, so they were supportive of a growing market for renewable fuels.”

However, Dinneen notes that the oil industry underestimated the ability of farmers and the ethanol industry to gear up and produce such significant quantities of the domestic fuel that they surpassed the original goal of 7.5 billion gallons for 2012 six years early. “The program was an immediate and overwhelming success … and it led to RFS2 being passed in 2007,” said Dinneen.

Dinneen recounts the success of the RFS over the past decade and how it has changed energy, economic, and rural policy in this edition of The Ethanol Report. Ethanol Report on RFS 10th Anniversary

Bikers Line Up for Free 10% Ethanol

sturgis-15-bikersFrom the Midwest to Mexico, the west coast to the east coast, every state and various countries – bikers of all stars and stripes love the word free, especially when it comes to fuel for their rides. That made the fourth annual Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) “Free Fuel Happy Hours” a big draw at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip Campground this week.

RFA pumped 1,872 gallons of 93 octane, 10 percent ethanol in four days this week for bikers in town for the 75th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Many bikers came back every day to fill their tanks, as they spent their days traveling through the beautiful Black Hills. RFA also gave away lots of free t-shirts, coozies, and information about how E10 is approved for use in any motorcycle – not any higher blends.

We talked to a few of the bikers who came through to fill up, including a guy from Mexico City, a farmer from Wisconsin, and others from Iowa, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Interviews with bikers filling up with E10

2015 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with RFA at the Buffalo Chip Photos

RFA Intern Pumps Ethanol for Bikers

sturgis-15-austinAustin Ludowese is a Minnesota farm boy majoring in business education at the University of Wisconsin-Stout but this week he is pumping E10 at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip Campground to help educate bikers about ethanol.

This is Ludowese’s last week of a two month internship with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) which he says has been a great experience. “Working with RFA has been great,” he said. “It’s good to see how passionate people are in the industry and the kind of work they put in to promote not only using ethanol but educating as well, which is what we’re doing here in Sturgis.”

During his time with RFA this summer, Ludowese has traveled to Washington DC and to the EPA hearing in Kansas City where he testified about the importance of ethanol to his family farm in Minnesota. “Ethanol has always been a huge part of my family, as far as farming, we deliver all of our corn to ethanol plants,” he said, adding that learning more about the policy side of the industry will help him when he returns to farming after graduating from college. His brother Evan interned with RFA last year.

RFA will be continuing “Free Fuel Happy Hours” at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip Campground where Ludowese will be filling motorcycle tanks with 93 octane E10 from 1-4 pm today and tomorrow.

Listen to an interview with Austin here: Interview with Austin Ludowese, RFA intern

2015 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with RFA at the Buffalo Chip Photos

Ethanol Education for Motorcyclists

sturgis-15-robertAn expanded schedule for free fuel happy hours at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip this year is giving the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) even more opportunity to educate motorcyclists about ethanol.

“We here on two different levels,” said RFA VP of Industry Relations Robert White. “The first is to make sure everyone knows they shouldn’t use more than 10 percent ethanol in their bikes.”

“On the next level, all of these people have engines at home – car, truck, SUV, lawn mower, chainsaw, weed eater, whatever – we want them to know that should be either 10 percent in their smaller engines, E15 in newer vehicles or E85 in flex-fuel vehicles,” said White. “Match the engine with the right fuel.”

sturgis-15-harleyWhile all motorcycles can use E10, White has a custom motorcycle of his own that can actually use higher blends. “My particular motorcycle is a 2009 Road King Classic Harley Davidson,” he said. “All I did was change the computer to allow a wider fuel ratio band so I can use anything from E0 to E85 intermittently, and the bike has run seamless.”

The reason White made the modification on his own bike was in part to show motorcycle manufacturers it could be done. “If they did this at the factory it would cost 100 bucks, just like a flex fuel vehicle,” said White. Additionally, it was to show that motorcycle engines are capable of running on higher blends. “I’ve run 85 percent ethanol on it for over 10,000 miles multiple years now,” he said. “These motorcycles are a lot stronger than people give them credit for.”

No matter what, White says all major motorcycle manufacturers warranty the use of 10 percent ethanol and that is the main message during the free fuel happy hours at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip Campground from 1-4 pm through Thursday this week.

Listen to White explain more in this interview: Interview with Robert White, RFA

2015 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with RFA at the Buffalo Chip Photos

Free 10 Percent Ethanol at Sturgis Buffalo Chip

sturgis-15-woodyThe Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has been providing free E10 fuel fill-ups for bikers at the Buffalo Chip Campground during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally for the past four years, and every year Chip owner Rod “Woody” Woodruff is first in line.

“RFA has been here for a long time getting the word out about ethanol, that it is safe, because there’s all that false information going out there,” said Woodruff. “But, what’s important, when they’re at the Buffalo Chip, they’re extending the hand of friendship in good faith to anybody that wants to accept it and it’s very well received here.” Woodruff has been a strong supporter of ethanol since 1999 when he bought the motorcycle he rides all the time and he says he has never used anything but E10 in it.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in the Black Hills of South Dakota and the 34th anniversary of the Buffalo Chip Campground, the place where a big percentage of bikers call home during the rally. Woodruff says they made lots of improvements to the facility in anticipation of increased traffic this year. Early estimates were for a million plus visitors to the rally, which is called “one of” the biggest in the country – but probably really is the biggest.

In addition, earlier this year Buffalo Chip became South Dakota’s newest town. “The idea of the town was to be a town for bikers, by bikers, just to have as little regulation and government intervention as possible,” said Woodruff.

RFA will be providing free 93 octane premium E10 fuel from 1-4 pm through Thursday at the Buffalo Chip.

Listen to my interview with Woody here: Interview with Woody Woodruff, Buffalo Chip Campground

You can also watch Woody in action in this video:


2015 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with RFA at the Buffalo Chip Photos