Corn Growers Discuss Ethanol in Japan

Cindy Zimmerman

NCGA Rick TolmanThe CEO of the National Corn Growers Association was in Japan last week to talk about the history and the future of ethanol in the United States. CEO Rick Tolman attended the Japan Biomass Ethanol Fuel International Symposium in Misasawa, Japan – according to a story on the NCGA website.

Tolman said Japan has many renewable fuel advocates.
“They like the environmental benefits and economic aspects of renewable fuels,” he said. “The focus of the symposium was discussing the potential to build a local industry from surplus rice and from wood chips and forest residue. They were very interested in how the renewable fuels industry has developed in the United States.”
Japan recently passed a law that allows a 3 percent ethanol blend in some vehicles. The nation has one ethanol plant that produces ethanol from sugar.
Tolman said Japan is looking for ways to increase value-added opportunities for its rural communities, just like the United States.

Ethanol, International

EPA Administrator On Domestic Fuels

Cindy Zimmerman

Luke & Chuck EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson spoke at the National Biodiesel Conference this morning and talked about the future of the domestic fuel industry in America. “Renewable fuels like biodiesel are the next step in our steady march toward cleaner, healthier air.” Johnson said. “President Bush and the EPA are encouraging investments in the technology that are powering the nation’s economy and driving our environmental successes.” Listen to his interview with biodiesel conference blogger Chuck Zimmerman here.
After his talk, Johnson visited the Ride & Drive area outside the convention center, where Chuck took this picture of him checking out a biodiesel powered VW. (Johnson is the one in the center of the photo)


“From Niche to Nation”

Cindy Zimmerman

RFA The Renewable Fuels Association’s 11th Annual National Ethanol Conference promises to be bigger and better than ever.
The conference will be held February 20-22 at the JW Marriott Resort & Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada. Among the highlights on the agenda will be addresses by US Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) and ExxonMobil Vice President Dan Nelson, as well as Governors Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas and Dave Heineman of Nebraska.
Registration is available on-line at but if you are interested you better act quickly because they intend to cap registration at 1400 and not offer on-site registration.


Military Surcharge for Oil

Cindy Zimmerman

Did you know that America pays a “national security surcharge” for each gallon of oil that is imported from the Middle East? I didn’t, but thanks to C. Scott Miller of the BioConversion Blog for bringing it to my attention. Here is a link to Scott’s post which includes an article by a “USAF Lt. Col. (who) calls for a Manhattan Project solution involving cellulosic ethanol, biorefineries, and PHEVs.” Interesting and a real eye-opener. Thanks, Scott.

Cellulosic, Miscellaneous

A Day at the NASCAR Races

Cindy Zimmerman

GM General Motors is giving Nascar E85 a day at the GM FlexFuel 250 races February 17 at Daytona International Speedway. The event is part of GM’s E85 ethanol campaign “Live Green, Go Yellow” announced last month in Washington DC, which is “an innovative partnership designed to promote E85 use and showcase GM’s E85 FlexFuel vehicle leadership to U.S. consumers – including millions of loyal NASCAR fans – throughout the year.” According to a press release from GM, FlexFuel-branded Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks also will serve as pace vehicles at Daytona and 10 other races on the 25-race NCTS circuit.
“GM and the Chevrolet Silverado brand are dedicated to helping grow an E85 infrastructure in the U.S. ,” said Brent Dewar, GM vice president, North America marketing and advertising . “Leveraging Chevy’s prominent presence in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series helps spread the word as we work to increase consumer awareness of E85 as a domestically produced alternative to imported oil and a way of reducing emissions.”

Ethanol, Flex Fuel Vehicles

The Stars Come Out For Biodiesel

Cindy Zimmerman

Luke & Chuck Celebrities are all about biodiesel in California, apparently. Here is my husband with “Beverly Hills 90210” star Luke Perry, who was at the National Biodiesel Conference in San Diego to show his support. He and actress Daryl Hannah held a joint press conference today just to say how much they like biodiesel. Perry was also showing his support for his buddy, author Josh Tickell, who introduced his new book Biodiesel America tonight at the conference.
Singer Willie Nelson will be there tomorrow and Wednesday.
Our daughters – aged 17, 18 and 23 – are usually not all that impressed with what mom and dad do for a living. But, they were pretty excited to see dad with this teen idol, I can tell you that. Even though the first run of 90210 was a bit before their time, they watched it all the time in syndication – and they think he’s still a heart-throb even though he’s over 40!


USDA Undersecretary at Biodiesel Conference

Cindy Zimmerman

USDA Tom Dorr USDA Undersecretary for Rural Development Tom Dorr was one of today’s speakers at the National Biodiesel Conference in San Diego. Chuck Zimmerman interviewed him about USDA’s renewable energy initiatives, which fall under the umbrella of the Rural Development agency with in the Department. Dorr talks about the administration’s committment to reducing imports of foreign oil and USDA’s value added energy programs. Dorr says, “We consume 140-150 billion gallons of liquid transportation fuels in this country every year. Right now we’re producing about five billion gallons of ancillary fuels. There’s gonna be a tremendous opportunity to grow this industry.”
You can listen to the full 7:00 interview here.

Biodiesel, Ethanol, Government

Budget Talk

Cindy Zimmerman

USDA Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns unveiled details of the administration’s proposed FY2007 budget for USDA in a press conference today. The $93 billion budget is down $3 billion from ’06, as Johanns stressed that agriculture needs to do it’s part to reduce the deficit.
Energy was named by Johanns as one of the department’s priorities for ’07.
Now moving on to another USDA priority, which is energy. I recently announced a comprehensive energy strategy to help producers with high energy costs. I am pleased that this budget continues to provide tools that help producers manage the impact of high energy costs. This budget also funds the development of renewable energy resources and new energy efficient technology.
For 2007 we will have at least $345 million available in loans, grants and other support for energy projects. Within this total, USDA’s core investment in energy-related projects increases to $85 million in 2007 and that’s up from $67 million in 2006.
This includes resources available to support renewable energy research and demonstration projects as well as additional efforts to support energy development and transmission across public lands.
In addition, and not shown on the chart, we are targeting renewable energy and energy efficiency projects through Rural Development Loan and Grant Programs. We anticipate investment in excess of $250 million each year in Fiscal Years ’06 and ’07.
Throughout ’07 USDA will continue its many successful energy partnerships with the Department of Energy, the Department of Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency. USDA’s efforts will be coordinated by the newly formed Energy Policy Council.

Johanns noted that some of the $3 billion in budget reductions is coming from programs that are ending this year and one of those is the bioenergy program – which was started three years ago to “expand industrial consumption of agricultural commodities by promoting their use in production of ethanol and biodiesel.”
Authority expires for the CCC bioenergy program in September 2006, so these dollars are no longer included. Having been an advocate for ethanol now for over 20 years, I can tell you that the strength of the industry today is really nothing short of remarkable. We are projecting that commodity prices for feed grains will increase in the ’07 due to the need for more ethanol production.
The program paid out nearly $100 million to producers last year.
Here’s a link to all the info about USDA’s budget proposal.

Biodiesel, Ethanol

Great Cellulosic Ethanol Article

Cindy Zimmerman

Here’s a very good, comprehensive report on cellulosic ethanol from Cox News Service. Good information about cellulosic, including blurbs about SunOpta’s new technology (see previous post) and Iogen’s progress in the field (also noted elsewhere on this blog). The article also points out the interest in cellulosic technology on the part of the Energy Future Coalition and Ted Turner. The conclusion is that a commercially feasible process for extracting ethanol from cellulose is still a breakthrough or two away, but lots of excitement building for this “new kind of ethanol.”
The article also notes that the Bush budget to be released tomorrow will ” include $150 million for research on cellulosic ethanol, a $59 million increase over the previous year.”

Cellulosic, Ethanol