Retired Army General Calls Biofuels “Ammunition”

Like oil in World War II, U.S. Army Ret. General Paul J. Kern believes that biofuels are the “ammunition” for America today.

Gen. Kern ended his address to the 6th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit in Des Moines on Tuesday on that note, displaying a WWII military poster declaring “Stick to your job – oil is ammunition.”

“It’s your job to change that from oil is ammunition to alternative fuels are ammunition,” he said. “We need that for our country and for our Department of Defense. Your military relies on fuel to do the job that we ask them to do.”

The main focus of the highly decorated retired army general’s address was on the national security dimensions of fuel.

Listen to Gen. Kern’s address to the 6th annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit here: Gen. Paul Kern address

Listen to a brief interview with Gen. Kern here: Gen. Paul Kern interview

Photos from 2012 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit

Iowa Renewable Fuels – Revived and Ready

The 6th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit kicked off in Des Moines on Tuesday on a very positive note, considering that 2011 was a record year in the state for both ethanol and biodiesel.

In his annual address to the summit, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw noted that the state’s 41 ethanol plants produced 3.7 billion gallons of ethanol. “If Iowa were a country, it would be the third largest ethanol producer in the world, behind only the rest of the United States and Brazil,” said Shaw.

He also noted that with the return of the biodiesel tax credit in 2011 helped most of Iowa’s biodiesel plants return to production. “Ten Iowa biodiesel plants operated during 2011 produced a record 169 million gallons,” said Shaw.

However, Shaw noted that the challenges facing biofuels are just as strong as ever. “I know it’s hard to believe, but not everyone in America enjoys the renewable fuels success story,” he said, outlining the attacks against ethanol in particular by the food and oil industries. “Today the oil industry enjoys billions of dollars in tax subsidies while the renewable fuels industry has none,” said Shaw, proceeding to name off all of the subsides unique to the oil industry.

Shaw outlined the priority issues for the renewable fuels industry in 2012 as getting the biodiesel tax credit reinstated, keeping the Renewable Fuel Standard in place, and getting E15 commercially available.

Listen to Shaw’s address to the 6th annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit here: IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw address

Photos from 2012 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit

Judge Denies Attempt to Enforce California LCFS

The federal district court judge who ruled California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) to be unconstitutional has denied a motion to continue implementation of the law.

On Monday, Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill denied the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) motion to stay the decision he issued on December 29, 2011 that had halted the enforcement of the LCFS regulation because that regulation is unconstitutional.

RFAOn Friday, January 20, 2012, CARB filed papers asking the Court to reverse its decision and allow the state to continue implementing the LCFS in 2012. Judge O’Neill ruled that CARB “improperly seeks to relitigate issues this Court resolved in its order granting the preliminary injunction and orders on the summary judgment motions.” He further noted that CARB sought not to preserve the “status quo” but rather to “allow enforcement that imposes higher restrictions than had been imposed previously” without citing any authority to show why the Court would have jurisdiction to grant that type of relief.

Growth Energy“Judge O’Neill’s decision demonstrates the strength of our claims against the LCFS,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen and Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis in a joint statement. “The California LCFS seeks to regulate conduct outside its borders and is blatantly discriminatory and unconstitutional. American ethanol advocates will continue to oppose CARB’s effort to reinstate this punitive policy that illegally seeks to dictate the production and transportion of ethanol and other fuels outside its border.”

CARB has appealed Judge O’Neill’s finding that the LCFS violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. That litigation is in the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals.

POET Partners With DSM for Cellulosic Ethanol

Ethanol giant POET is partnering with a Netherlands-based life sciences company with the intention of making advanced biofuels a reality by next year.

POET has announced a joint venture with Royal DSM to commercially demonstrate and license cellulosic bio-ethanol based on their proprietary and complementary technologies. POET–DSM Advanced Biofuels, LLC, is scheduled to start production in the second half of 2013 at one of the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plants in the United States.

The two partners will produce cellulosic ethanol from corn crop residue through a biological process using enzymatic hydrolysis followed by fermentation. The first commercial demonstration of the technology will be at Project Liberty, which is currently being constructed adjacent to POET’s existing corn ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa. The initial capacity is expected to be 20 million gallons in the first year, growing to approximately 25 million gallons per year.

POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels, LLC, intends to replicate and license the technology to additional plants to be built at the other 26 corn ethanol facilities in POET’s network and license it to other producers in the United States and the rest of the world. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that in the United States as many as 350-400 new bio-refineries will have to be constructed by 2022 to meet the volume requirement of 16 billion gallons/year of cellulosic bio-ethanol under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

DSM and POET will each hold a 50% share in the joint venture, which will be headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The initial capital expenditure by the joint venture in Project Liberty will amount to about $250 million. The closing of the joint venture is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

As a result of the joint venture project, POET has also announced its intent to decline the $105 million loan guarantee it was awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in September. POET will officially decline the guarantee prior to drawing any funds when the joint venture closes.

Listen to some comments from DSM Managing Board Chairman/CEO Feike Sijbesma and POET CEO Jeff Broin and questions from media during a telephone press conference today: POET-DSM press conference

On-Site Registration for Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit

Iowa RFAIf you did not register in advance for the 6th annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit, there will be registration available on site at the starting at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Veterans Memorial/Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Des Moines.

It looks like the weather will be okay tomorrow so it will be worth the trip to see the four-star program the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association has lined up this year. Speakers include Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, retired four-star General Paul J. Kern, Dr. Gal Luft of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe, and much more.

The event runs from 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. and also features an exhibit area of companies and organizations in the biofuels industry. Hope to see you there!

American Ethanol NASCAR Partner Plans

The black No. 3 Chevrolet that carried Dale Earnhardt Jr. to four NASCAR Nationwide series championships will boast a new American Ethanol paint scheme in several races during the 2012 season.

Growth EnergyThe new look for the iconic car was unveiled this past weekend during the NASCAR Preview 2012 event in Charlotte, North Carolina, where it was also announced that the driver would be Austin Dillon, 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion. Dillon is also the grandson of team owner Richard Childress, who decided to bring the No. 3 car back full time into the NASCAR Nationwide Series last November. Dillon drove the No. 3 in the Camping World Truck Series last year.

Growth EnergyAmerican Ethanol has also teamed with RAB Racing and driver Kenny Wallace for the 2012 season. They will attempt to make their Sprint Cup Series debut in the 54th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 26, with Wallace at the wheel of the No. 09 American Ethanol Toyota Camry. Wallace and the No. 09 team finished seventh in the 2011 Nationwide Series driver championship standings, a career-best for the team after posting 11 top-10 finishes.

“The Daytona 500 is the race I grew up watching every year as a kid in St. Louis. It’s a very important race to me,” Wallace said. “I take this opportunity very seriously. I want to thank everyone at RAB Racing for working so hard in preparing this American Ethanol Toyota Camry.”

This is the second year for the American Ethanol partnership between NASCAR, Growth Energy and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).

Science Magazine Spotlights Seaweed to Biofuel Technology

The cover story in the latest issue of Science Magazine showcases a California-based company’s technology that converts seaweed to biofuel.

The research article details breakthrough technology developed by scientists with Bio Architecture Lab (BAL) using a microbe to extract the sugars in macroalgae that could further the use of seaweed as a feedstock for advanced biofuels and renewable chemical production.

“About 60 percent of the dry biomass of seaweed are sugars, and more than half of those are locked in a single sugar – alginate,” said Daniel Trunfio, Chief Executive Officer at Bio Architecture Lab. “Our scientists have developed a pathway to metabolize the alginate, allowing us to unlock all the sugars in seaweed, which therefore makes macroalgae an economical alternative feedstock for the production of renewable fuels and chemicals.”

“It is both an incredible scientific achievement and a distinguished honor to be published in Science, and I am very proud of our team,” said Trunfio. “It is yet another strong validation of BAL’s breakthrough technology.”

Seaweed can be an ideal global feedstock for the commercial production of biofuels and renewable chemicals because in addition to its high sugar content it has no lignin, and it does not require arable land or freshwater to grow. Globally, if three percent of the coastal waters were used to produce seaweed than more than 60 billion gallons of fossil fuel could be produced. Today, in many parts of the world, seaweed is already grown at commercial scale. BAL currently operates four seaweed farms in Chile and has had great success in growing seaweed at economically viable production yields.

BAL was a beneficiary of the highly selective U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) awarded to DuPont, for the development of a process to convert sugars from seaweed into isobutanol.

Washington Times Editorial by Gal Luft

The Washington Times carried an editorial about ethanol last week from the director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, who will be speaking Tuesday at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit in Des Moines.

Iowa RFADr. Gal Luft wrote about how the ethanol industry no longer has the blenders tax credit or the associated tariff on imports and his hope for an “open market” where all fuels can compete and consumers can choose their fuel.

“Congress should remove barriers to fuel competition so a variety of fuels, including ethanol, can be blended at any ratio consumers wish to pour into their tanks,” wrote Luft. “An open fuel standard would ensure new cars sold in the United States have flexible fuel engines designed to run on any combination of gasoline, ethanol and methanol. According to General Motors, adding fuel flexibility to a new gasoline-only automobile costs about $70.”

Luft will be speaking at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit on Tuesday during the morning session, following addresses by four-star General Paul Kern (U.S. Army, ret.) and former Reagan National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane. All three will be discussing the importance of breaking America’s dependence on foreign oil.

Pre-registration for the 6th annual summit is closed now but on-site registration is still available starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial/Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Des Moines.

American Ethanol Gears Up for 2012 NASCAR Season

American Ethanol is gearing up for the 2012 NASCAR season with a renewed commitment to the sport that spotlights racing on 15% ethanol fuel.

During the NASCAR Preview fan event in Charlotte, N.C. this weekend, American Ethanol announced that it will continue relationships with Richard Childress Racing and RAB Racing for the 2012 season. This is the second year for the racing partnership between NASCAR, Growth Energy and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).

“American Ethanol is getting a lot of positive attention because it’s a good fit for NASCAR’s green initiative, and because of the increased horsepower on the track,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer.

Growth EnergyAustin Dillon, 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion, will drive the No. 3 Chevrolet during the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series season with American Ethanol serving as the primary sponsor for six races as well as one race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2012.

Dillon, pictured here with team owner (and grandfather) Richard Childress, is looking forward to representing the ethanol industry. “I’m proud to carry the American Ethanol colors in NASCAR,” he said. American Ethanol will also be an associate sponsor for the entire RCR family of drivers.

Growth EnergyKenny Wallace, a driver who has been a strong promoter of corn growers and ethanol over the past year, will drive the No. 09 Toyota Camry in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for RAB Racing. American Ethanol will partner with Wallace for the Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500, as well as five races in the Nationwide Series.

“I’m honored to represent American Ethanol. I not only talk about American Ethanol, I truly believe in it,” Wallace said. “I’ve been to the farms, I’ve met the families, I’ve been to the ethanol plants, and I’ve been in the hallways of the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C., in support of it.” (Listen to a prior interview with Wallace)

“Through our partnerships with Austin Dillon and Kenny Wallace, we are telling NASCAR and its fans that American Ethanol is committed to the sport,” said Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “These drivers are ideal ambassadors for the American Ethanol team and will help tell the story of how American-made ethanol creates jobs, cleans our air and fosters energy independence.”

Representing a wide array of ethanol supporters, from farmers to bio-engineering firms, American Ethanol was established by Growth Energy and NCGA with NASCAR starting with the 2011 racing season, the same year that NASCAR switched its fuel to Sunoco Green E15.

Listen to prior interviews with Childress, Growth Energy and NCGA.

Nebraska Ethanol Sales Top Ten Billion Gallons

Ethanol sales from Nebraska have officially reached 10 billion gallons, according to the Nebraska Ethanol Board. The history making tank-full was pumped in late 2011, after 34 years of ethanol being sold in the state.

2012 projections show that Nebraska drivers could purchase close to seven hundred million more gallons this year. Last year, production from the state’s 25 ethanol plants topped 1.9 billion gallons according to preliminary data. 91 percent of the state’s production goes to U.S. domestic markets, five percent goes overseas and four percent stays in Nebraska.

According to the Energy Information Administration, 2011 U.S. ethanol production was 14.4 billion gallons. The country’s total annual motor fuel usage is around 134 billion gallons. Ethanol accounts for 10.7 percent of total U.S supply.

“Our persistence paid off,” says Loran Schmit, a former member of the Nebraska Legislature who laid the groundwork for the development of Nebraska’s ethanol industry. “Ethanol is a major boost to our economy. Continued expansion of the industry will provide greater benefits for agriculture and energy security.”

Sign up for the Nebraska Ethanol Board’s FFV club for updates of new E85 locations and other announcements.