It’s NASCAR race time with the American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen. I’m on location at Iowa Speedway and the race is tonight. Right now we’re in a lull between practice sessions. I’m here courtesy of Syngenta Enogen and will be covering their events.
One of this things is the effort Syngenta is doing with Iowa FFA members again this year. They are raising money and awareness for flex fuels and FFA benefits too.
Money raised for flex fuel infrastructure by FFA members at the Iowa Speedway on race day will be matched by Syngenta, with a portion of the proceeds going to participating FFA chapters. “Engaging the public about ethanol and renewable fuels is a good opportunity for my students,” said Miranda Johnson, advisor of the Twin Cedars FFA Chapter. “They are the future and they understand the importance of conservation and preservation of our land and resources – and the vital role farmers play in feeding and fueling our country.”
I’ll be until the winner’s circle tonight so keep an eye on photos. I’m collecting photos from today’s activities here: 2015 American Ethanol 200 Presented by Enogen Photo Album
Coverage of the American Ethanol 200 sponsored by Enogen
A 100% pop up event for clean energy kicked off a nationwide campaign calling for making renewable energy accessible and affordable for everyone – 100%. The campaign is the brainchild of actors Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio.
“100% is for 100%,” said Mark Ruffalo, co-founder of the campaign. “Our first priority is to make clean energy more accessible and affordable for all people – increasing consumer demand and accelerating the growth of clean, efficient renewable energy.”
The campaign will span the U.S. and feature activities and events to drive demand. From a “100% Hotline” that provides clean energy concierge services to showcasing leadership and growing demand to policy work, the campaign aims to make it easier and cheaper for consumers to switch to clean energy.
100% will tell stories of clean energy leaders – from Main Street to Wall Street, from farmers to small business leaders, from homeowners to renters, across the demographic and political spectrum, and across New York and the country – who are following a clean energy path and finding the best of themselves.
“My story is not unusual. I was going down a pretty destructive path,” said Krystal Ruiz, SolarCorps construction fellow for GRID Alternatives. “What turned my life around? Finding purpose – making a difference. I went to work for GRID Alternatives and now I am helping to provide high-skilled job opportunities in my own backyard. It changed my life, and I want to help do that for others.” Ruiz is the subject of a 100% spotlight video – a compelling story of crisis and courage.
“History will recognize people like Krystal for what they are: leaders of a new era. The 100% campaign will honor them today,” said Ruffalo.
RFA’s Kelly Davis on ethanol trade mission to Mexico
Expanding export markets for U.S. ethanol was the focus last month as a group of industry representatives to Mexico and Japan on trade missions coordinated through a partnership between the Renewable Fuels Association
(RFA), U.S. Grains Council and Growth Energy.
RFA Director of Regulatory Affairs Kelly Davis says they saw exceptional opportunities in Mexico. “I left very excited about a potential market beginning in 2016-17 for some corn ethanol exports,” said Davis.
The group met with PEMEX, the Mexican state-owned petroleum company, which Davis says has traditionally been against the idea of using corn ethanol for fuel but that may be changing. “Mexico has enacted an energy reform bill which opens their energy sector to competition,” said Davis. “We think this opens the market up to ethanol because it’s more price competitive compared to the oxygenate they now use which is MTBE.”
Davis says Japan currently has an E3 limit and most ethanol is blended into the supply as ETBE, “so technically they already use ethanol but they use ethanol as a feedstock to make ETBE and then use that as their blending agent.” There is some optimism that the market share of biofuels in Japan will continue to increase through the use of E10.
Learn more in this interview: Interview with RFA's Kelly Davis on ethanol trade mission trip
Environmental Protection Agency Acting Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe was the lone witness in a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing Thursday on “Re-examining EPA’s Management of the Renewable Fuel Standard Program.”
Committee chairman James Lankford (R-OK), who favors repealing the RFS, grilled McCabe over the “aspirational” goal of breaching the blend wall and the potential that volumes of cellulosic ethanol targets under law will have to be “reset” by the EPA because not enough is being produced.
Committee Ranking Member Heidi Heitkamp, who is a strong supporter of the RFS, was more concerned that the volume obligations for biofuels proposed by EPA “ignore Congressional intent and reduces Congressionally-mandated blend volumes, citing availability of distribution capacity.”
McCabe continued to defend the EPA’s recently proposed volume obligations for 2014, 2015 and 2016 as “ambitious but responsible” in the face of criticism from both sides of the issue.
Members of the GROWMARK and FS System were recent participants in the National Propane Gas Association’s (NPGA) 2015 Propane Days at the nation’s capital. This news release says the members were educated regarding affairs and legislation that affects the propane industry and how to be actively involved in its development.
“The Propane Days conference was a great opportunity to work with dedicated FS and GROWMARK experts as well as the Illinois Propane Gas Association. It was a privilege to work together and with our legislators toward the common goal of promoting propane as a clean, alternative fuel of choice,” explained Kevin Johnson, energy specialist with Heritage FS, Inc.
Attendees had the opportunity visit with their Congressional representatives to encourage the extension of key tax provisions, equalization of taxes on propane, and parity of propane relative to other auto fuels. The event also provided networking opportunities with other industry colleagues throughout the nation and a discussion with PERC staff to learn more about the national Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) efforts.
“I feel the Congressional visits will reward the industry for years to come. The visit to PERC was such an eye opening experience which yielded great information. I can’t wait to share my new found knowledge with my team back home,” said Chris Olson, LP and retail marketing manager with Illini FS.
New polls from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) show support for the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and those presidential candidates friendly toward the RFS. This news release from the group says the RFS and renewable fuels will be key issues for Iowans in the 2016 general election.
The poll, conducted by The Tarrance Group, shows “Iowa voters have an exceptionally favorable view of ethanol, with 72 percent favorable and only 11 percent unfavorable,” stated Tarrance Group President and CEO Ed Goeas. “This is virtually a universal opinion across geography and voter groups. Not a single subgroup of the electorate fails to hold a majority favorable opinion.”
Additionally, the poll results find that 57 percent of Iowa voters are less likely to support a candidate for public office who opposes an increase in ethanol use through the RFS. Similarly, 56 percent of voters oppose EPA’s recent proposal to reduce the RFS. Goeas noted, “Amazingly, not a single subgroup of the electorate favors this action.” He added, “[O]ur findings indicate that once voters hear the facts, the coalition against this is likely to grow.”
Meanwhile, this news release from the group shows that the top five Republican presidential candidates in the state are all backers of the RFS, with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker leading the pack with 19 percent, followed by Ben Carson at 13 percent, Jeb Bush at 11 percent, Marco Rubio at 9 percent and Mike Huckabee at 8 percent.
“As we have seen in other credible surveys of Republican caucus goers, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker continues to set the pace in Iowa,” stated TheIowaRepublican.com Editor-in-Chief Craig Robinson. “In one way or another, each the top five candidates in the poll have either publicly expressed support of leaving the current RFS in place or have backed an infrastructure grant program that would help ensure that consumers are allowed choice at the gas pump. These are vital issues to Iowa’s economy and it should no surprise that the 2016 candidates who understand the importance of renewable fuels issues are in the top tier of the poll.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released a new report, “Economic Impact of the Biobased Product Industry,” that finds each job in the biobased products industry is responsible for generating 1.64 jobs in other sectors of the economy. The report states in 2013, 1.5 million jobs directly supported the biobased product industry, resulting in 1.1 million indirect jobs in related industries, and another 1.4 million induced jobs produced from the purchase of goods and services generated by the direct and indirect jobs.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the release of a new report as well as discussed changed under the 2014 Farm Bill that will create additional opportunities for growth in renewable plant-based materials.
“This report is the first to examine and quantify the effect of the U.S. biobased products industry from an economics and jobs perspective. Before, we could only speculate at the incredible economic impact of the biobased products industry. Now, we know that in 2013 alone, America’s biobased industry contributed four million jobs and $369 billion to our economy,” Vilsack said. “Today, we are also adding to the number of innovative products carrying USDA’s BioPreferred® label and expanding options for our nation’s biorefineries. This means small businesses and global companies alike can continue to harness the power of America’s farms and forests to create new and innovative biobased products that are used all around the world.”
The report builds on the “Why Biobased?” report released by the USDA in October 2014. Estimates are that the use of biobased products currently displaces about 300 million gallons of petroleum per year – equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road.
The Secretary also announced changes to include new forest products in the BioPreferred program, along with proposed changes to the former Biorefinery Assistance Program to assist in the development of cutting-edge technologies for advanced biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased product manufacturing. Continue reading
The Beethoven wind project located in South Dakota is in full operation. BayWa r.e. bought the project from a local developer in August 2014. The power is sold under a 20 year contract to NorthWestern Energy and GE has been engaged to maintain the turbines for the next 10 years.
“The 80 MW Beethoven Project is the largest wind project brought online in the US and the second largest one in BayWa r.e.’s history worldwide. Its output will supply clean, reliable, renewable energy to 31,000 homes.” said Matthias Taft, CEO of BayWa r.e. and BayWa AG board member for the energy sector. “The completion of Beethoven is an important milestone and we are on to the next project. As we continue to seek out the next opportunity, we welcome any introduction to exciting projects.” said Florian Zerhusen, CEO of BayWa r.e.’ wind business in the US.
In 2014, BayWa r.e. sold two operational renewable energy projects located in New Mexico but is still managing the facilities.