Nebraska Holds FFV Awareness Campaign

Tomorrow will kick of the National Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV) Awareness Campaign across the state of Nebraska. The educational campaign is a joint project of the Clean Fuels Fuondation, the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, the Nebraska Ethanol Board, and others who support the utilization of E85 compatible vehicles.

As reported in a press release from the Clean Fuels Foundation, Todd Sneller, Administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, said “We are pleased to combine our ongoing efforts here in Nebraska with the nationwide program of the FFV Awareness Campaign. High ethanol blends like E85 can open up new markets for ethanol but we need to make sure drivers know they can use these fuels and where they can purchase them.” Sneller said several national surveys indicate that as many as 90% of the owners of FFVs either are not aware their vehicles have this capability or have never used ethanol blends. “The FFV campaign is about consumer awareness and driver education. We are going to begin with the drivers of the 87,000 FFVs on the roads of Nebraska immediately. There is no better time to start this campaign than on Earth Day.”

New state road signs will indicate if a station has E85 available and information on E85 and FFVs will be available at rest stops along Nebraska highways.

Douglas A. Durante, Director of the Clean Fuels Foundation, said the campaign is critical if the US is to achieve the benefits of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) that is current law. “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated the RFS can reduce pollution, increase farm income, lower fuel costs to consumers, and provide a host of other benefits, but only if we can actually use the fuel the program requires. Once we maximize the use of low level blends in conventional vehicles we must turn to FFVs.”

The National FFV Awareness Campaign is also promoting the use of higher ethanol blends in Florida and other states.

House Ag Chair Expects 15 Percent Ethanol by August

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) expects the Environmental Protection Agency to approve 15 percent ethanol blends for regular gasoline by August.

According to a story from Hoosier Ag Today, Peterson said in an interview that it is taking a longer time to get approval than he thinks is necessary. “Now, we’re thinking we might get a decision in August. I think we’re going to get a positive decision, everything I can tell,” he said.

Peterson said he discussed the issue with one of the major car companies last week. “They don’t see too many problems with E-15. They do have more problems when you start getting to E-20 and E-25,” he said.

The chairman does expect some pump labeling requirements if EPA approves E-15, including warnings for older vehicles and small engines, but says a favorable decision will be “very significant” for the future of biofuels.

Senate Bill Would Extend Ethanol Tax Incentives

A bill has been introduced in the Senate to extend tax incentives for ethanol set to expire at the end of this year.

Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Kent Conrad (D-ND) introduced the bipartisan GREEN Jobs Act of 2010 that extends through 2015 the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC), the offsetting tariff on foreign ethanol, the Small Producers Tax Credit, and the Cellulosic Ethanol Producer Tax Credit.

Grassley said the lapse of the separate tax credit for biodiesel, which expired at the end of 2009, has cost 29,000 clean-energy jobs and put 23,000 more at risk. “We can’t risk a repeat performance with ethanol, where 112,000 jobs are at stake.” Of the ethanol tariff, Grassley said, “the United States already provides generous duty-free access to imported ethanol under the Caribbean Basin Initiative, but the CBI cap has never once been fulfilled. In fact, last year, only 25 percent of it was even used by Brazil and other countries.”

Conrad“Our country is in serious danger because of skyrocketing energy costs,” said Sen. Conrad. “This growing crisis demands urgent action. We must be committed to coming together in a bipartisan way to lessen our dependence on foreign oil, while aggressively pursuing alternative sources of energy such as biofuels. Extending these tax credits is a step in the right direction.”

Growth EnergyThe ethanol industry praised the Senate action. “Extending these measures will ensure job growth and economic development across the entire country—all while reducing our dependence on foreign oil and cleaning our skies,” Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, said. “If we let the tariff and VEETC expire, it would drain both hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars right out of our economy.”

Renewable Fuels Association Logo“Tax incentives aiding the expansion of America’s ethanol industry are sound public policies by any economic, environmental or energy measure,” said Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dinneen. “Domestic ethanol use is lowering the price of gasoline, reducing imports of foreign oil, and helping stabilize and reinvigorate rural economies all across the country.”

ACE“The American people directly benefit from ethanol through the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs and by saving money on a clean, renewable product at the pump,” said American Coalition for Ethanol Executive Vice President Brian Jennings. “If it is a priority to save these high-skill, high-wage jobs in the U.S. and provide consumers with affordable fuel, it is imperative that these ethanol tax credits are renewed this year, and we are committed to working with Congressional leaders to see that happen.”

The Senate bill mirrors bipartisan legislation that was introduced in the House in March by Reps. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., and John Shimkus, R-Ill.

POET Ethanol Plants Get Safety Awards

Five POET ethanol plants have been recognized for chemical transportation safety, receiving the Union Pacific Railroad’s 14th annual Pinnacle Award. The award is given to companies that have no non-accident releases during the year and have successful prevention and corrective plans in place.

“This is Union Pacific’s opportunity to acknowledge and thank our customers for their continuing efforts to eliminate chemical releases from rail cars,” said Diane Duren, POET vice president and general manager – chemicals. “Rail is the safest way to haul the chemicals that Americans use every day, whether it is chlorine for drinking water or fertilizer for our farms that help feed the world.”

POET Biorefining plants in Ashton, Emmetsburg and Jewell, Iowa; Lake Crystal, Minn.; and Hudson, S.D. received the award.

UNICA: Stop High Tariffs on Clean Technologies

The ethanol tariff debate continues as today, Marcos Jink, President and CEO of the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) told World Trade Organization’s Director-General, Pascal Lamy, during a presentation that, “It makes no sense for countries to adopt ambitious policies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while continuing to apply high tariffs on clean technologies that can be instrumental to achieve goals and allowing fossil fuels to be traded freely.”

Photo Credit: SugarcaneblogThis presentation was given as part of Lamy’s visit to Sao Martinho, a sugar, ethanol and bioelectricity plant located in Pradopolis, a town located in the center of Brazil’s sugarcane growing region. The Sao Martinho plant processed 8.1 million tons of sugarcane in the 2009/2010 harvest season, making it the largest among Brazil’s 430 cane processing mills and largest in the world. Earlier this month, this year’s sugarcane harvest began.

“It is essential that WTO member countries reconcile their trade and climate change policies, and that we progress toward the inclusion of ethanol in the list of environmental goods for which import tariffs must be abolished,” said Jank, who argues that ethanol should be recognized as a global energy commodity. He calls for the customs classification for ethanol to be changed to reflect its role as a low-carbon energy solution.

Jank noted that biofuels are not the only clean-technology that may be affected by the move to curb climate change and believes that WTO’s rules may be challenged. He cautioned that without measurable rules based on sound science, the door will be open to creating new trade barriers. He concluded that the greatest risk is the development of implementation mechanisms to prove compliance with sustainability criteria and WTO rules, such as the Directive on Renewable Energy Sources, must be assessed carefully.

Ethanol Report on Scaling the Blend Wall

In this edition of “The Ethanol Report,” Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Director of Market Development Robert White talks about what RFA is doing to help ethanol scale the rapidly approaching blend wall. He discusses the BYO Ethanol program to get blender pumps installed, encouraging EPA to grant a waiver to allow up to 15 percent ethanol in regular gasoline, and reaching out to consumers to increase consumption of ethanol blends. Robert also talks about how RFA is up for a couple of national awards this week from the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) for their 2009 marketing campaigns.

Ethanol Report PodcastRFA won regional NAMA awards for their Sturgis Motorcycle Rally t-shirt design, the Flex-Fuel Challenge website, and the BYO Ethanol campaign ad. They will find out Wednesday at the Best of NAMA awards in Kansas City if any of them received national recognition.

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Ethanol Rocket Racers Take to the Skies

The Rocket Racing League is taking back the skies. The five-year old league which has launched a campaign to become “NASCAR with rockets” is planning the final details on a demonstration of its X-Racer planes next week in Tulsa, Oklahoma. While these “rockets” will have a sleeker look and more crowd appeal, they will continue to run on the same fuel – ethanol. The demonstration is set for April 24 at the QuikTrip Air and Rocket Racing Show and this will be the first paying audience to see them fly since the EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 2008.

X-Racers is the name of the rocket powered aircraft being designed to compete in the Rocket Racing League. The X-Racers are powered by a rocket engine that emits a long flame and a thunderous roar that can be felt and heard for miles. The current Mark-II and Mark-III X-Racer designs fly at a speed up to 250 miles per hour and these are the rockets that will be making an appearance at the show in Tulsa.

“We are building an interactive 21st-century entertainment company that combines the exhilaration of racing and the power of rockets, and the available 21st-century technology to make this a personal interactive experience,” said Peter Diamandis, the league’s co-founder and chairman of the board in MSNBC’s Cosmiclog.

In person will not be the only way to see the rockets in action. Eventually, the races will be broadcast on TV. Soon, you’ll even be able to race them yourself with an iPhone and iPod Touch app launching in May. In addition, a game will be available in June for the iPad.

In the meantime, watch the website for more information on upcoming appearances throughout the year. The aerial demonstations will vary from event to event as the league assesses safety and entertainment value but they anticipate that the real races will begin in late 2011.

Corn Oil from Ethanol Plant to Feed Biodiesel Refinery

Mansfield Oil Company has acquired East Fork Biodiesel of Algona, Iowa … a 60-million-gallon-a-year refinery that will get its feedstock of corn oil from Mansdfield’s network of C&N Companies ethanol plants in the Midwest.

This company press release
says this will give East Fork a cheap source of biodiesel feedstock while providing a market for those ethanol plants’ corn oil:

”East Fork fits in our network very well in terms of offering our ethanol plants a new local market for a corn oil that provides higher value than simply selling the oil contained in the DDGS into the feed markets. East Fork will have ready access to our major rail logistics hubs in Iowa and provide a reliable supply of biodiesel for our customer base of obligated parties who need to meet new biodiesel requirements under RFS2,”said Jon Bjornstad, President of C&N.

Chris Daniel, General Manager for East Fork stated, “We are very pleased to have selected C&N. Their transparent approach gives us the ability to manage and forecast our costs and margins, and their access to a nationwide market of refiners and blenders in every region of the country gives us great confidence in their ability to secure us the best customers for our product today.”

More information is available on Mansfield’s Web site.

Pickens Encourages Investment in American Energy

“When do we stop investing in OPEC and start investing in America?”

pickensThat’s the question that oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens asked at a House Ways and Means committee hearing Wednesday on “Energy Tax Incentives Driving the Green Job Economy.” Pickens told the panel that he’s for “anything that’s American” when it comes to energy -including wind, coal, solar, hydro, nuclear, geo-thermal, ethanol, propane, or natural gas.

The straight-talking Texan and chairman of BP Capital Management addressed those who discourage tax incentives for renewable energy on the basis of letting the free market work. “If you think OPEC is a free market, you’re a sap,” he said.

Pushing natural gas as an alternative, Pickens said that skeptics say there is no natural gas fueling infrastructure. “If you create the market, the private sector will build it,” he said. “Can you imagine what would have happened if we had told Henry Ford, forget about building the Model T, there’s no filling stations?”

Pickens strongly stressed the need for America to develop an energy plan now. “I’m running out of time, I’m 82 years old next month, and I’ve got to get an energy plan fixed for America because we cannot leave this to generations in the future,” noting his 13 children and grandchildren.

Pickens’ whole opening statement is well worth watching here on the Ways and Means Committee website.

Mazda to Use E85 in Australian Race

Mazda Australia will use E85 to power its turbo rotary Mazda RX-8 SP at the upcoming Targa Tasmania rally. According to, the organizing team of Targa Tasmaia, is encouraging competitors to drive hybrids or cars running on low-carbon-content fuels. Mazda Motorsport has opted to run its turbo rotary rally car on the low-emitting E85 blend fuel. Already used in V8 Supercars, Targa Tasmania is the second major motorsport event in Australia to introduce this renewable fuel with event organisers committed to delivering zero net emissions by the 20th Anniversary event next year.

But, it doesn’t look as though Mazda is going to offer E85 compatible vehicles on a global scale anytime in the very near future. “I guess it’s one of those infrastructure things we have to embrace,” noted Mazda Austrailia MD Doug Dickson. “Ethanol as a fuel has probably lost a bit of prominence recently; it’s probably something that needs to be brought back to the forefront, but then the world tends to be concentrating on electric, where there’s probably far higher costs of infrastructure development than there is for E85.

Targa Tasmania will be held from April 27 – May 3. Driving the E85-powered Mazda RX-8 SP is South Australian Steve Glenney.