Dine with General Wesley Clark

wesclarkKen Field, Chairman of Greenfield Ethanol, Canada’s largest ethanol company, is inviting people to attend a private reception and fire side chat with General Wesley Clark on September 29, 2009. Clark is most notably known in the biofuels industry as the Co-Chairman of Growth Energy. In addition he owns his own strategic consulting firm, Wesley K. Clark & Associates.

The reception will be held at the National Club beginning at 5:30 p.m. followed by a dinner. The fire side chat will be moderated by Diane Francis, Editor at Large, Financial Post.

For more information, or to RSVP contact Debra Conlon, d.conlon@greenfieldethanol.com or via phone at 416-304-1700 x8447.

Ford Debuts B20 Biodiesel, E85 Compatible Trucks

FordSuperDutyBack at the end of August, I told you about how Ford was getting ready to debut a new engine that would be compatible with more blends of fuels, including B20 biodiesel. Today, at the State Fair of Texas, the automaker unveiled its new line of F Series trucks that will not only take the higher blend of biodiesel but also a line of engines that will take E85 ethanol.

This company press release says the new engine, which was code-named “Scorpion,” should make a pretty big, green splash:

* The 2011 F-Series Super Duty boasts all-new powertrains, led by the Ford-designed, Ford-engineered and Ford-built 6.7-liter Power Stroke® V-8 turbocharged diesel engine, which delivers significantly improved torque and horsepower as well as class-leading fuel economy while maintaining best-in-class towing and payload capability; new engine also has biodiesel compatibility up to B20

* A new 6.2-liter V-8 gasoline engine also is added to the lineup; it also delivers significantly improved torque and horsepower as well as class-leading fuel economy; new gas engine can run on regular-grade gasoline, E85 or any blend in between

Ford says the new trucks, due to the market in 2011, will have a six-speed transmission that gets the new diesel engine’s low-end torque to the ground faster and will come in an automatic or manual option.

Ethanol Group Finalizing Comments to EPA

The Renewable Fuels Association today released comments to be filed with the Environmental Protection Agency regarding proposed regulations to implement the expanded renewable fuel standard (RFS) program enacted by Congress in the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) in 2007.

RFA“Reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil was part of the Energy Security Act, providing economic opportunity and job creation and supporting rural communities were all equally important goals,” said RFA president and CEO Bob Dinneen during a press conference to announce the organization’s comments. “We’re concerned that EPA appears to be ignoring those objectives as it pursues greenhouse gas reduction based on unproven theory.”

In specific comments to be submitted to EPA, Dinneen says they will stress that, “International indirect land use change simply should not be included,” Dinneen said. “Congress did not intend to penalize America’s ethanol producers for decisions made by farmers and governments in other countries.”

The RFA also released a report conducted by Informa Economics that will be included in comments submitted to the EPA. “It calculates that the land needed to meet the demands of the growing RFS mandate would be in the range of 2.2 million acres,” said Dinneen. “Put in perspective, that is one half of one percent of U.S. crop land, one tenth of one percent of world cropland, and six 100ths of a percent of world arable land – certainly not enough to have any meaningful impact on greenhouse gases across the globe.”

Dinneen says RFA is in the process of finalizing its comments to EPA, which will be submitted tomorrow on the final day of the comment period.

Listen to Dinneen’s opening comments here:

EPA Admits Uncertainty in Indirect Land Use

A group of Midwest senators led by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) dropped an amendment to appropriations legislation that would have prohibited the EPA from spending funds to include international indirect land use change (ILUC) emissions in the implementation of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

Sen. Harkin withdrew his amendment after receiving a letter from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson that promised the agency would be taking a closer look at the proposed regulation regarding ILUC that would penalize biofuel production such as corn-ethanol.

Jackson said in her letter that it is “clear that there are significant uncertainties associated with these estimates and in particular, with the estimate of indirect land use change.”

“Therefore, I have asked my staff to quantify the uncertainty associated with specifically the international indirect land use change emissions. They are working closely with USDA as well as incorporating feedback from experts who are commenting on the rule. This analysis will allow us to quantify the impact of the uncertainty on the lifecycle emissions. We will present these estimates in the final rule, and I plan to incorporate those estimates of uncertainty in my regulatory decisions.”

Harkin was pleased with the EPA administrator’s admission and promise to address the issue. “I think our amendment got EPA’s attention,” Harkin said.

Proposed EPA Regs Would Cost Corn Growers

A study commissioned by the National Corn Growers Association finds that proposed regulations by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement the expanded Renewable Fuel Standard would cost the ethanol industry as much as $420 million a year.

NCGAThe study found that the up-front cost to the ethanol industry for compliance with the new regulations could total $30 million, with annually recurring compliance costs reaching up to $420 million.

Higher costs for ethanol producers mean increased costs for corn growers, said Steve Ruh, chairman of NCGA’s Ethanol Committee. “Paperwork has a price,” Ruh said. “At a time of economic recession, the last thing any industry needs are new regulations – especially unneeded recurring reporting requirements – that can cost up to a half-billion dollars a year.”

Ruh says the cost of the new regulations at the farm level will mainly be in the form of extra management and recordkeeping time associated with the “renewable biomass” definition. It is also possible that in some geographic areas other costs will be forced down to the farmer level of the supply chain.

The report, “Compliance Costs Associated with the Proposed Rulemaking for RFS2,” was prepared by Informa Economics.

Minnesota Governor Talks Ethanol

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty supports an increase in the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline to at least 15 percent and is hopeful about the future of next generation biofuels.

Tim Pawlenty at Syngenta SeedsThe governor who might run for president in 2012 answered several questions about ethanol from reporters after helping celebrate the grand opening of the new Syngenta Seeds headquarters in Minnetonka, MN earlier this week.

On the topic of increasing the allowable ethanol blend to 15 percent, “That’s something we have pushed in Minnesota and there’s some good work that has been done at Minnesota State at Mankato showing you can use 15 percent or more without damaging the engines,” Pawlenty said. “We’ve tried to encourage EPA to look at that and they seem to be unwilling or unable to make a decision so far.”

The governor is proud of the ethanol industry in Minnesota and the work being done by companies like Syngenta Seeds to increase corn yields to meet the demand for food, feed and fuel. “We’re going to have to have technological breakthroughs, yields are going to have to be increased,” he said. “That’s why Syngenta is so important, not just for the economy in general, but for that whole mission.”

Pawlenty also looks forward to breakthroughs that will lead to the large scale commercialization of cellulosic ethanol. “We’re hopeful that we’ll see next generation biofuels in the not too distant future based on cellulosic ethanol,” he said. “So far in terms of being able to deploy it, it’s been somewhat small scale but we’re hoping there will be more breakthroughs on that.”

Gov. Pawlenty has announced he will not seek re-election as governor and after his appearance at the Values Voter Summit over the weekend and preparations to launch a national fundraising committee has fueled more speculation that he is considering a run for president in 2012.

Midwest Senators Sponsor Ethanol Amendments

Iowa’s two senators and others from the Midwest are co-sponsoring amendments to legislation that funds the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which would address two important issues facing the ethanol industry.

Iowa Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), along with Ben Nelson (D-NE) introduced an amendment to the Senate Interior-Environment Appropriations bill that would prevent the EPA from going ahead with regulations that would limit the production and use of biofuels required by Congress’ 2007 energy bill. The proposed amendment would prohibit the EPA, for one year, from spending funds to include international indirect land use change emissions in the implementation of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

In addition, Grassley is working with Senator Nelson on an amendment that would require EPA to approve an increase in ethanol blend levels from 10 percent to 15 percent. “I still believe that the best way for this matter to be resolved is for the EPA to review the science and approve the higher blend,” said Grassley. “But the EPA needs to know that we’re watching the all-too-lengthy deliberating process that they seem to be going through, and of course their lack of action in this area. And it’s time for them, I think, to move forward.”‘

Debate on the appropriations bill began today on the Senate floor but neither amendment was brought to a vote.

IRFA Announce Ethanol Drawing Winners

irfaThe Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) has announced the winners of its drawing during IRFA’s participation in the Iowa Corn Fed GameDay promotion prior to the Iowa vs. Iowa State football game on September 12, 2009, in Ames, IA. The winners of $50 of free ethanol ar Becky Jordan of Collins, IA, Lynn Hardin of Jefferson, IA, and Paul Scott of Coon Rapids, IA.

The Iowa Corn Fed GameDay is part of a GameDay partnership that includes the Iowa and Iowa State football, basketball, and wrestling seasons. Consumers can enter the drawing once each month from July 10 through November 21 online at www.iacornfed.com.

This particular event was sponsored by the Iowa Corn Growers Association and held just outside the north entrance of Jack Trice Stadium, was a pregame showcase of the many uses of corn and its importance to Iowa. IRFA was invited to participate in this event to highlight the many benefits of corn-based ethanol and other renewable fuels. IRFA’s display, in addition to including an educational exhibit on the uses and benefits of ethanol and biodiesel, encouraged fans to enter the drawing for $50 of free ethanol gift certificates which may be used for the purchase of ethanol-blended fuel.

IRFA Biofuels Manager Grant Menke stated: “IRFA congratulates the three winners and encourages all Iowans to follow their lead by choosing Iowa-produced renewable fuels at the pump. Together we can boost Iowa’s economy and do our part to reduce dependence on foreign oil.”

Ethanol Plant on the Auction Block

A partially completed 110 million gallon per year ethanol plant in Nebraska will go up for auction next month.

AltraAltra Nebraska, LLC began construction of this facility in 2006 and work halted in November of 2007 when additional financing could not be obtained due to economic challenges. The plant was expected to be one of Nebraska’s largest ethanol plants employing over 50 persons and utilizing over 36 million bushels of corn for feedstock. The liquidation of the assets comes as part of the Chapter 11 filing last month.

MaasMaas Companies of Rochester, MN will auction the plant on Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 10 AM on the site in Carleton, Nebraska. The auction process will offer the plant as an entirety for buyers up to two weeks prior to auction day. Potential buyers are encouraged to explore this option in a timely manner and submit their bids prior to October 13 at 5:00 pm. After this date, the property will be sold at auction in a piecemeal manner. The auction manner of sale will include offering all real estate as one tract and the equipment or equipment lots individually. The auction will offer buyers the option of bidding on-site or live via the internet.

Open houses of the plant for auction are scheduled for September 28 and 29, October 26 and 27, from 10 am to 5 pm. Details of the sale are available at the auction website, maascompanies.com or by contacting the auction company directly at 507-285-1444.

Don’t Penalize Biofuels

corn-field-schuyler-nebraska-neb168The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a rule based on Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) that would penalize biofuel production such as corn-ethanol. The ethanol industry has banned together to fight this potential ruling, and today Growth Energy urged Congressional support of an amendment authored by Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.

Specifically, the Harkin amendment to the Interior-Environment Appropriations bill, would prohibit the use of funds by the EPA to include international ILUC theories in the implementation of the renewable fuel program. This in hopes to spur a full debate in the Congress on ILUC theory. EPA is forging ahead with the rules even though sound science on the topic is lacking, nor an agreed upon way to even measure ILUC impacts.

“If the EPA goes ahead with this lopsided rule, it will penalize domestic production of biofuels like ethanol. And U.S.-made ethanol is the only existing alternative we have to foreign oil. It creates jobs, enhances our national and economic security, and cuts greenhouses gases. Senator Harkin’s amendment deserves to be passed by the Congress. Senator Harkin’s legislation is rooted in logic and fact – two things that are lacking from the EPA’s proposed rule,” said Tom Buis, Chief Executive Officer of Growth Energy.

According to Growth Energy, ILUC theory has never been debated in the Congress, and it’s not accepted as a consensus of the scientific community. “If we’re going to theorize the indirect land use changes of fuel, the EPA should not single out biofuels – but should include the sources of all transportation fuels, including emissions from coal-fired power plants for plug-in cars, Persian Gulf oil tankers and tar-sand extraction,” said Buis.