NCGA: Small Engine Industry Must Change

Small engines and the use of ethanol has been in the news lately with spring approaching. This week, National Corn Growers Association CEO Chris Novak published the following editorial.

The Small Engine Industry Needs to Change with the Times
By National Corn Growers Association CEO Chris Novak

NCGA-Logo-3The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), which represents the small engine industry, just released their annual survey results concerning consumer knowledge of small engine fuel options. Based upon the results of the survey, corn farmers and small engine manufacturers can agree that consumers need and deserve more information about today’s fuel options. We know from our own consumer research that consumers are hungry for information about the positive effects of ethanol blended fuels.

Further, we agree with the OPEI on two other points: 1. The OPEI acknowledges that E10 is safe for use in small engines like motorcycles, lawn mowers, trimmers, boats and snowmobiles; and 2. The OPEI notes that federal law prohibits the use of higher ethanol fuel blends in outdoor power equipment. Beyond these points of agreement, however, lays a significantly different view of the future.

Our farmers believe that consumers having a choice of fuels is a good thing. Whether you choose renewable ethanol because you want cleaner air or because you like purchasing an American grown fuel or because higher blends of ethanol are frequently priced lower than gasoline-the bottom line is that you should have the choice if you want to kick your oil addiction. The OPEI’s press release suggests that you, as a consumer, can’t handle this choice-that you lack the ability to know the differences between regular gasoline and higher ethanol blends like E-15 or E-85. We trust consumers to make the right choice of fuel – whether it is for their cars or small engine.

Today, our farmers are working with the auto industry to examine how higher blends of ethanol, ranging from E-15 to E-25, can boost gasoline octane. Higher gasoline octane can improve engine performance and help the auto industry achieve higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy mileage targets. Likewise, it is time for the nation’s small engine manufacturers to stop fighting renewable fuels and, instead, begin working to ensure tomorrow’s small engines can run on tomorrow’s renewable fuels.

Rather than fighting choice and change, our nation’s small engine manufacturers should work to develop engines that can run safely on higher blends of renewable fuels. Perhaps then, instead of bemoaning the lack of consumer knowledge and issuing dire warnings-the OPEI can offer consumers something real: the opportunity to make a clean and renewable choice.

The Truth Behind Marine Engines & Ethanol

CNlnqSnU8AAM5jbIn response to a recent misleading piece in BoatUS, which warned of marine engine damage due to ethanol, Keith Holmes, President and Owner of CK Motorsports, a certified Mercury Marine Engine & Racing service dealer, wrote a response that we thought worth sharing with our readers.

The Truth Behind Marine Engines and Ethanol
by Keith Holmes, President & Owner of CK Motorsports

The gasoline used by more than 95 percent of Americans, E10, contains 10 percent ethanol and is safe to use in marine engines. All current boat engines are warrantied for E10 and have been for nearly two decades. Yet for some reason, BoatUS has chosen to ignore this information and the countless owner’s manuals expressly approving the use of E10. They are preying on people’s fears instead of looking at the facts.

Proper care and maintenance are the best and easiest ways to protect boat engines. While E10 is a safe, reliable fueling option for both marine engines and automobiles, higher ethanol blends, such as E15, are not approved for use in marine engines.

Furthermore, no consumer is required to fill up with an ethanol blend, but E10, E15 and other fuels do give consumers the sorely needed ability to choose a fuel that meets their price and performance needs.

As the owner of CK Motorsports, a premier certified Mercury Marine Engine & Racing service dealer that services 400-500 boats annually, and has for over 20 years in Nunica, Mich., I believe it is important to set the record straight when it comes to ethanol and marine engines.

Here are just a few facts and observations I have made over my 20 years servicing marine engines: Continue reading

Price of Oil Crushes Liquid Transportation Fuels

This is a special editorial authored by Joanna Ivancic, executive director for Advanced Biofuels USA. It is based on a two-part series looking at how low crude prices are affecting biofuels.

Price of Oil Crushes Liquid Transportation Fuels–Renewable and Not — Now What?

“Europe should promote the development of home-grown alternatives to imported oil and gas,” according to former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who was Joanne-headshotcropped-196x300Danish Prime Minister from November 2001 to April 2009 in an interview with Bloomberg’s Ewa Krukowska about Russian domination of European energy resources. “Wind and solar are well-known success stories but I’d also point to biofuels as an example of an alternative energy source with a lot of potential.”

In the US, in a two-part series, Advanced Biofuels USA correspondent Robert Kozak identifies the same concerns for energy security and the same solution–development of home-grown alternatives.

In addition, his analyses of the effect of low oil prices on the liquid transportation fuels industry and the potential for a reinvigorated US shale oil/gas industry with and without government subsidies reflects this growing international appreciation that we are at a crossroads, at a moment when the energy choices we make will have far-reaching consequences.

Either we will continue in an energy resource system where the energy czars have their boots on the necks of importing countries; or we grab the reins of freedom to become self-sustaining. Either we continue to pollute our air and water to the point that unrest threatens or we use the technologies that science gives us to reverse our harmful stewardship of the planet.

In Part 1 of the series, Why Oil Is Cheap in October 2015, Kozak points out that the bottom fell out of business-as-usual in the oil industry not only due to oversupply, but due to that oversupply being offered at below market prices to finance continued conflict in the Middle East.

In Part 2, “After the Fall: Rebuilding US Liquid Fuel Production – Invest in Our Land or the Shale Oil Fields?” Kozak reviews recent experts’ predictions about the trajectory of oil prices, analyses how they went wrong and the current situation of debt and decline in the US shale oil/gas industry. Continue reading

All Auto Owners Can Choose Premium E30

Back in September I brought you a story about Orrie Swayze, an active ethanol advocate, who wants all drivers to use E30 in their cars. At the time, there was a special order in front of the South Dakota Farmers Union and this has since passed in a resolution meeting and Swayze believes the resolution will unanimously pass at their December 10, 2015 meeting. The special order declares that all 14,000 members pledge to use premium E30 in all their non-flex fuel autos and other standard engines.

Watertown, South Dakota-based Glacial Lakes Energy is publicly promoting the use of E30 with a full-page newspaper ad and Swayze is calling on other ethanol plants to tear down the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Illegal Ethanol Lie” that holds such power over the ethanol industry and built the E10 blend wall that has cost the industry billions.

Swayze has penned an opinion piece about E30 and it is below.

All Auto Owners Can Choose Premium E30

ShatterOrrie Swayzeing EPA’s biggest illegal lie: “Its illegal to fuel non-flex fuel vehicles with lower cost, more power ethanol’s premium blend E30.”  Even though for manufacturing efficiencies both flex and non-flex fuel vehicles have basically the same engines, fuel, and emissions systems:  And the clean air act’s memorandum 1a, now amended to include persons, or the law protects consumers from EPA’s zealous, unreasonable enforcement of  clean air act’s tampering provisions.  Plus thousands of standard auto owners daily fueling with premium E30 obviously have the clean air act’s memorandum 1a defined “reasonable basis for knowing”: Knowing they are not tampering or illegally degrading emissions, engines, or emission systems and Magnuson-Moss warranty act protects them from unreasonable warranty denials. Continue reading

New Poll Shows Iowans Support RFS

“We wanted a poll to tell us the truth about where caucus voters stand. This isn’t a Republican thing or a Democrat thing. This is an American thing. This represents the future,” said Eric Branstad the Iowa State Director of America’s Renewable Future (ARF) during a press call to release the results of a new poll.

Dupont_ARF_Infographic_FinalThe results find that a majority of caucus-goers from both political parties would be more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who supports the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and biofuels, specifically ethanol. The poll also found that 61 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Democrats would be more likely to support a candidate who supports progress in these areas. The poll was commissioned by ARF and DuPont and conducted by Selzer & Company who is best known for their Iowa Poll on behalf of the Des Moines Register.

“The idea behind this poll was to get clean reads on what people are thinking in this space very generally and then unpack the rationale behind some of the feelings they have,” said Anne Selzer, president of Selzer & Company when discussing the poll methodology.

In addition to Selzer and Branstad, comments were also made from Brooke Coleman, founder and executive director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council and Jan Koninckx, global business director, biofuels for DuPont.

Listen to the press conference here: Iowa Caucus Voters RFS Poll Press Conference

After being asked their views on the RFS without introducing any information about the policy, the poll delved in a bit more as a means to understand how caucus goers viewed renewable fuels and the RFS specifically. Results show several reasons why voters believe the RFS should continue: Continue reading

Opinion: VW Could Repair Image with Biodiesel

VWBiodiesel could be the solution to fix Volkswagen’s image left tarnished by revelations the company rigged the emissions testing for its diesel vehicles. This opinion piece in the Denver Post by Bill Germain, described as a sustainable business strategist and environmental advocate, makes it very clear he’s not happy with what VW did, especially since he owns one himself. And he wants the company to make amends, with the best way, in his opinion, by embracing biodiesel to clean up the air and the automaker’s act.

VW should take full responsibility for this fiasco by fixing the software and emissions irregularities, paying all requisite fines, and reimbursing the millions of TDI owners who it intentionally defrauded. But the truth is that such measures would do little to fulfill the original promise of VW’s “clean diesel” engine. Why? Even with effective emissions control technology, petroleum-based diesel fuel cannot offer a clean solution. In contrast, biodiesel can, particularly when produced from feedstocks of waste vegetable oil or sustainably sourced seed oils.

Biodiesel not only dramatically reduces harmful emissions at the tailpipe, it’s a domestically produced, renewable substitute that provides significantly improved environmental performance over petroleum diesel throughout its entire life cycle. Perhaps most importantly, it’s not a future, “what if” technology’ it’s widely available today and compatible, either pure or blended with petroleum diesel, with most diesel car and truck engines on the road, including Volkswagen TDIs.

B20 fuel (20 percent biodiesel) can significantly reduce carbon dioxide and other harmful emissions including particulate matter, carbon monoxide and unburned hydrocarbons.

Emissions scandal aside, it is extremely short-sighted for Volkswagen to not have embraced biodiesel for its capacity to improve the environmental performance of its existing TDI vehicles. I don’t want to do VW any favors, but authorizing the use of B20 could offer VW a mitigation strategy in what will undoubtedly be a long and painful road to recovery for the world’s largest automaker. The aggregate environmental benefit of transitioning even a portion of some of the 500,000 TDIs in the U.S. to B20 would be significant. Factor into this equation that B20 would provide increased fuel lubricity and contribute positively to vehicle longevity, biodiesel can be viewed as a practical, cost-effective strategy to help TDI owners protect their car investments.

He concludes saying biodiesel won’t repair all the damage VW has done to its reputation, but it will make the company come closer to truly fulfilling its clean diesel promise.

Climate Deniers Uncovered

A paper published by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), “The Climate Deception Dossiers,” reveals decades of corporate misinformation campaigns by the fossil fuel industry. The paper focuses on seven deception dossiers, or collections containing nearly 85 internal company and trade association documents that have either been leaked to the public, come to light through lawsuits, or been disclosed through Freedom of Information Act requests.

gw-cover-climate-deception-dossiersThe authors say that many call climate change a hoax, including U.S. Senator James Inhofe who is now chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. However, write the authors, the biggest climate hoax is continuing today and that is, “…the decades long campaign by a handful of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies – such as Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy – to deceive the American public by distorting the realities and risks of climate change, something acting directly and sometimes acting indirectly through trade associations and front groups.”

The authors continue that that deception dossiers tell an undeniable truth, “…that for nearly three decades, major fossil fuel companies have knowingly worked to distort climate science findings, deceive the public, and block policies designed to hasten our needed transition to a clean energy economy.

So what do we learn?

  • Fossil Fuel companies have intentionally spread climate disinformation for decades.
  • Fossil fuel company leaders knew that their products were harmful to people and the planet but still chose to actively deceive the public and deny this harm.
  • The campaign of deception continues today.

The authors write that while many fossil fuel companies acknowledge the main findings of climate science, some still continue to support groups that spread misinformation about climate science and policy. Some of these front groups include: Heartland Institute, Americans for Prosperity, and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow. The authors say these groups, along with industry trade associations such as American Petroleum Institute (API), American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE). The fossil fuel industry also uses a host of fake grassroots organizations such as Fed Up at the Pump and Oregonians for Sound Fuel Policy to fight against legislation such as the Clean Power Plan and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Continue reading

Book Review: The Power Surge

As I write about energy each day, I often wonder what the trade-offs or consequences will be if a technology takes off, or even if it fails. How will it, if at all, alter America’s energy landscape? From my point of view, we are a country in fear of change and in fear of taking The Power Surgeaction. We are a country that spends more time worrying about what celebrities wore to an award show and when the next iPhone will be hit the streets, then worrying about the underlying causes of recessions (many economists blame oil prices) and what the consequences are of the decisions made, or more often than not, not made, by our elected officials.

So I was very excited when I read, “The Power Surge: Energy, Opportunity, and the Battle for America’s Future,” by Michael Levi who is the Senior Fellow for Energy and Environment and Director, Center for Geoeconomic Studies and Council on Foreign Relations. I have never read a book that does a better job of presenting various energy scenarios and the intended and unintended consequences of them and written and presented in a way based on research, economics and trends and not based on emotions.

There is no argument that there is a battle afoot over America’s, and quite frankly, the world’s energy future.

Our entire life is dependent on energy. We as a society can not function in our current “lifestyle” without energy. Period.

And despite what you personally believe, there are economic, security and environmental consequences and/or benefits to all decisions made and not made as eloquently demonstrated by Levi (and this includes those who believe climate change is a hoax). Levi begins the book with a three very probative and questions and one that he uses against all scenarios he presents in the book. In other words, how does the technology, legislation, or action fare against these three pillars?

  1. Does each energy source that has recently thrived offer important opportunities to improve the U.S. economy, strengthen national security or mitigate climate change while not causing intolerable damages on any of those fronts?
  2. Is is possible to seize those opportunities simultaneously- or would pursuing some of them severely undermine others?
  3. And can the United States take advantage of these opportunities without fundamentally altering the role of government in America?

The book begins with an in-depth discussion of all things oil and touches upon renewable energy sources such as biofuels. He also covers electricity and the role of natural gas in our current and energy future as well as technologies like wind and solar. He also points out that all sides of the issue overstate some of their claims and it was refreshing to see someone who doesn’t only call out claims on the side he/she is against. He writes, Continue reading

Editorial from Orrie Swayze

orrie-headshotPioneer ethanol advocate Orrie Swayze of South Dakota had the following op-ed published last week in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader:

Like with lead, petroleum’s web of lies continues gaining permission from the masses to poison their children. Author Dresden James explains why: “When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses … the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker, a raving lunatic.”

Too many Americans passively accepted oil industry lies like “lead octane is a gift from God.” And “E30’s octane ruins engines” These lies blocked ethanol’s octane market participation guaranteeing gasoline distributed lead poisoned our children and annually increased our medical costs plus oil industry profits many billions of dollars.

Oil’s lies again block ethanol octane’s meaningful market participation — guaranteeing gasoline distributed benzene octanes’ known human carcinogenic emissions (identical to those in cigarette smoke) daily poison our children: The annual associated billions of dollars in medical costs still make gasoline planet earth’s most subsidized commodity.

Do you own your thoughts or automatically think these truths are preposterous?
1. “Standard autos are flex fuel to auto manufactures’ endorsed premium E30.”
2. “Like E85 marketers historically, E30 marketers can safely use standard gasoline pumps.”
3. “Thousands of standard auto owners daily use blender pump’s cheaper, premium E30 to travel millions of trouble free miles annually without any legitimate warrantee denials.”
4. “They typically report “more power “and “can’t tell any mileage difference.”
5. “Increasing corn ethanol production sequesters carbon, lowers soybean prices, and enables E30’s market penetration to reduce benzene related octane emissions plus billions of dollars of medical costs 50 to 80 percent.”
6. Remarkably, corn/acre produces 450 gallons of ethanol plus the protein/meal/oil food equivalents (pounds) soybeans produce/acre.

Utterly preposterous, shout too many whose intellectual curiosity surrendered to oil’s propaganda long ago: Including too many corn and ethanol advocates, nearly all Americans, EPA officials, politicians, news media wise talking heads, etc. Little wonder oil’s basically gasoline monopoly poisons our children and destroys free enterprise’s role in liquid fuels markets.

Book Review: Flight Behavior

I recently read the novel Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, a book about climate change. When I first began reading the book I had no intentions of doing a review, but as I got deeper into the book, and the characters voiced their opinions, about media in general, my intentions changed.

The premise of the book is that millions of monarch butterflies migrate to a rural area in Tennessee for the winter instead of going to their usual location in Mexico. After they are Flight Behaviordiscovered by Dellarobia on her family’s land, and the media gets involved with a news story, people from around the world begin showing up including a scientist. The next several months the scientist, Dr. Ovid Byron, and his team attempt to ascertain why the monarch butterflies wintered in Tennessee.

There have been discussions in the media and scientific journals about how monarchs are decreasing in population. While some believe the cause is climate change, others believe it is the use of pesticides and some believe it is a combination of both. For example, Andre Leu, IFOAM President and author of The Myths of Safe Pesticides, quotes in his book, “Herbicide-resistant plants….have increased the use of glyphosate, which kills all other plants including milkweed, the only type of plant that monarch butterflies use for laying their eggs.” The author cites that milkweed has declined by 60 percent and monarchs in the U.S. that winter in the forests of Mexico has dropped from 1 billion in 1997 to 33.5 million. The milkweed fact above was mentioned in Flight Behavior.

I”m not going to use this space to debate climate change; rather, I’m going to use this space to discuss the role of media in the conversation. Today, media is quoting “experts” about climate change (and other issues) that are in fact not experts at all. Where are the credible scientists and researchers who are doing the work around climate change in this conversation?

Many scientists do not like how they are portrayed in and by the media. Reporters often spend more time being skeptical about the facts being delivered by a respected scientist then they do when speaking to a person who uses social media to get his/her word out effectively but has no basis in training or education to be discussing the scientific merits of an issue. (In other words, scientists don’t speak sexy talk).

Dellarobia and her husband Cub, give us an example: “Here’s the thing,” she said. “Why would we believe Johnny Midgeon about something scientific, and not the scientists?” Continue reading