Friday, May 29, 2009

Obama Endorses Corn Ethanol

governors biofuels coalition ethanol
President Barack Obama sent a letter of support this week to the Governor’s Biofuels Coalition endorsing corn-based ethanol.
“My administration is committed to moving as quickly as possible to commercialize an array of emerging cellulosic technologies so that tomorrow’s biofuels will be produced from sustainable biomass feedstocks and waste materials rather than corn,” Obama wrote in his letter to the coalition of governors. 
“But this transition will be successful only if the first-generation biofuels industry remains viable in the near term.”
As we've been reporting here all along, supporters of oil have mounted their all-out attack against corn ethanol to shut down the alternative fuels industry.  As goes corn ethanol, so goes the whole biofuels effort.

Forrtunately, a wide range of supporters, across the political aisle and across the country remain committed to a vibrant biofuels future.  And that means moving forward with the technology and infrastructure that is available now.

Thank you President Obama for your strong support shown this week for biofuels, especially corn ethanol.


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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ethanol Conversion Untruths, Misinformation and Negative Overstatements

The Auto Channel
Bob Gordon, President and Co-Publisher of The Auto Channel, criticizes PBS (Public Broadcasting Corporation) and its Motor Week auto show in a recent commentary for hyping ethanol conversion untruths, misinformation and negative overstatement.

Gordon recounts how the show recently hyped the "enormity of a Flex Fuel retrofit conversion" for a General Motors engine.

However, Gordon shares that 85% of the engine parts for an E85 conversion are the "exact same parts".

Gordon also discusses how a move to E85 ethanol vehicles is our country best effort to move us to greener vehicles and break our dependence upon foreign oil.

Check out the full commentary HERE.

Source: AutoChannel

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Big Food's Big Lobby Lobbies Big Time

GMA Grocery Manufacturers Association
Big Food's Big Lobby, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, continues its funding to undermine America's move to cleaner and more secure domestic renewable fuels.

In recent lobbying disclosure reports for the first quarter of 2009, GMA spent $720,000.00 to lobby the US Government on a variety of issues.  

A big component of this recently disclosed activity was GMA's  lobbying against ethanol to the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

And this total doesn't include the individual lobbying reports of the leading companies of the association.  Or their allies at the American Petroleum Institute.  Millions of dollars continue to pour into DC to keep America tied to dirty foreign oil.

But this is all far from surprising.  Last year we reported that the GMA launched an all out stealth attack against domestic biofuels.  Why?  Because American farmers were an easy target and an acceptable scapegoat for rising food prices.

But the attacks didn't go unnoticed. And months after global commodity prices have sharply fallen, retail food prices remain high and the profits at the big food companies remain even higher.

America needs clean, renewable biofuels like ethanol.  And fleecing American consumers with higher food prices to lobby against energy independence is no way to win loyal consumers.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Milk Prices Tumble But Consumers Don't Get Benefit

dairy cow milk pricesAn interesting story that finally getting some press coverage is that recent low milk prices haven't shown full benefits to consumers.

The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinal reported yesterday about the collapse of milk prices and the slaughter of herds and dumping of milk:
But nine months after prices began tumbling on the farm, consumers aren't seeing the full benefits.

The average price for a gallon of milk at grocery stores nationwide last month was down just 19% from its peak of $3.83 in July. Farmers, on the other hand, got $1.04 a gallon in April - 35% less than they were paid last fall.
So what are milk producers doing about this?  In Europe, they're rioting and protesting the low prices.  

And here in the US, they're thinning the herds.
The dairy industry response to these problems is to buyout cowherds through the Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) herd retirement program. CWT is a multi-dimensional, voluntary, producer-funded national program developed by the National Milk Producers Federation to balance supply and demand. Producers who have their bid selected must liquidate their entire herd and stay out of production for an entire year.  - High Plains Journal
This means there'll be less milk available in the future and thus higher prices.

Last time this cycle happened, the blame was shifted squarely on the price of ethanol and corn and ignored the demand/supply issue, including the herd culls.

Let's see how long before the first uninformed media story starts the wrong blame game again.

Friday, May 22, 2009

America's Energy Source Choice: Midwest or Middle East?

America Energy Source Midwest or Middle East
As Americans commemorate the ultimate sacrifice of American service personnel this holiday weekend, it reminds us of the tremendous cost that America continues to pay in blood, sweat, and billions of dollars to protect oil supplies around the world.  

America must continue to invest in domestic sources of energy.  And the simple reality is that we can move forward quickly with proven, earth-friendly technologies like bio fuels now.  Future technology discoveries will build upon the structure that is in place and growing now.

But it will all be lost if opponents get their way to label bio fuels as "unworkable",  "expensive", or "dirtier" than fossil fuels.

So this weekend, the choice remains.  Where should America get its energy?  

The Midwest or the Middle East?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

House Committee Reviews Proposals for Low Carbon Fuel Standards

The House Agriculture Committee today held a hearing to review proposals to implement low carbon fuel standards and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on state and federal levels.

The Agriculture Committee heard testimony from representatives of four renewable fuel companies and organizations who expressed serious concerns about provisions in proposed low carbon fuel standards that put U.S. biofuel producers at a disadvantage.

Leading experts on the subject who testified included:

  • Mr. Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President, American Coalition for Ethanol, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  • Mr. Tom Buis, Chief Executive Officer, Growth Energy, Washington, D.C.
  • Mr. Bob Dinneen, President and CEO, Renewable Fuels Association, Washington, D.C.
  • Mr. Carlos A. Riva, President and CEO, Verenium Corporation, Cambridge, Massachusetts

  • Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson also expressed concern over pending legislation and regulations:
    “I continue to be very concerned that some of the renewable fuel provisions under consideration on a state and national level are short on science and long on obstructive and excessive restrictions for domestically produced biofuels. The United States needs to have energy policies that are flexible, practical, and innovative.”
    Indeed, proposed regulations and calculations of indirect land use by the EPA have generated fierce opposition for being highly speculative and imperfect.

    Wednesday, May 20, 2009

    Ethanol Made From Watermelons? It's Not a Fruity Idea!

    watermelon ethanol fuel fruit summerThe summertime favorite may play an important role in helping to break America's dependence upon foreign oil.

    According to a new report by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) studies in Lane, Okla., watermleons show potential for producing ethanol from melons often left in the field due to external blemishes or deformities.
    Now, instead of being plowed under, such melons could get an economic "new lease on life" as ethanol. Normally, this biofuel is produced from cane crops like corn, sorghum or sugarcane as a cleaner-burning alternative to gasoline. The watermelon work reflects a national push by ARS to diversify America's "portfolio" of biofuel crops that can diminish the reliance on petroleum, especially from foreign suppliers.

    Chemist Wayne Fish's ethanol studies at the ARS South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory in Lane complement ongoing research there to commercially extract lycopene and citrulline from the crop. Both are valued nutraceutical compounds thought to promote cardiovascular and other health benefits.

    In publication-pending studies, Fish showed ethanol can be fermented from the glucose, fructose and sucrose in waste-stream juices--what's left after lycopene and citrulline are extracted. Making ethanol offers the potential benefits of helping to defray sewage treatment costs associated with nutraceutical extraction, and providing watermelon growers with a new market for their crop.

    On average, a 20-pound watermelon will yield about 1.4 pounds of sugar from the flesh and rind, from which about seven-tenths of a pound of ethanol can be derived. To extract all the possible sugars, Fish is seeking to degrade the rind with chemical and enzyme treatments. He's also evaluating different combination of temperatures, yeasts, antifoaming agents and pH levels to optimize the system.

    Researchers continue to look at other sources for ethanol as well.  Which is why efforts to kill off early ethanol efforts is really a plot to stay dependent to foreign oil.

    So enjoy the summer treat.  It might be the key to a cleaner, safer domestic fuel source!

    Tuesday, May 19, 2009

    Gas Prices Climbing Higher; Americans Suffer

    average gas gasoline prices petroleumThe average price of gasoline jumped again last week  up 7 cents to a national average of  $2.31 per gallon.

    Although less than last year at this time, American consumers again are seeing gas prices climb higher each week.  

    And many can ill afford to spend more at the pumps.  

    While others continue to be outraged that billions from the American economy are going overseas to fuel jobs and mayhem in unstable countries.

    The outpouring of money from America continues to fuel our trade deficit.

    We can only wonder the "real" price of protecting foreign sources of oil.  More billions of dollar.  And of course, thousands of American lives have been lost in this cause as well.

    Renewable fuels developed and produced here in America offer real hope in cleaning the environment, creating jobs and increasing American national security.

    Friday, May 15, 2009

    EPA Extends the Public Comment Period on E15 Ethanol Waiver Application

    EPA Ethanol E15 waiver applicationThe US EPA today announced they are extending the comment period for the E15 ethanol waiver application.

    The waiver request would allow higher blends of ethanol into the nation's fuel supply.  If you haven't done so already, let the EPA know how you feel about higher blends:

    The US EPA is currently taking comments from citizens regarding allowing high blends of ethanol.  Write to the EPA to let them know you support higher blends of ethanol! Currently, blends up to 10% are allowed (E10).  

    Via American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE)

    Via Growth Energy

    Via the National Corn Growers Association

    Source: EPA
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    Oil Imports Widen Trade Deficit...Again

    oil imports
    Should Americans buy domestic renewable biofuels or continue to send our money overseas?   That's a good question we should all consider based on the latest trade figures from the US government.

    The U.S. trade deficit widened during March, as the price and use of imported oil both climbed.

    The U.S. deficit in international trade increased to $27.58 billion from February's $26.13 billion, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. 

    The value of crude oil imports increased in March to $11.98 billion, from $10.00 billion in February. 

    The average price per barrel of imported crude in March rose by $2.14 to $41.36 from $39.22. 

    Last year, imported oil topped at $124.66 billion in July.

    Thursday, May 14, 2009

    It's Time for Farmers to Take Back 'Sustainable'

    Ethanol critics continue to look for ways to confuse policymakers and the public in their continuing campaign of disinformation.  Over the years they've tried many tricks: saying it couldn't be done, saying it was too expensive and saying it raised food prices.  Now their trick is to say that modern farming practices aren't "sustainable".   But the facts always prove them wrong.  We saw this wonderful essay this week and thought it would add more thoughtful points to the food vs fuel discussion.  Reprinted by permission by the California Farm Bureau Federation.

    Troy Hadrick California Farm Bureau farmer sustainable
    It's time for farmers to take back "sustainable"
    By Troy Hadrick

    It's hard to get through the day anymore without hearing the word "sustainable." In fact, I was recently asked if I was a factory farmer or if I raised cattle sustainably. Who judges what's sustainable and what isn't? It seems that the word has been hijacked and is being used by people who are opposed to modern agriculture.

    Sometimes you just have to shake your head when you hear the term. When I hear about sustainable wood, it always puzzles me. Are there some trees that don't grow back?
    But in food production, we hear more and more that modern agriculture can't continue down the same path it's currently on. What exactly led to that false notion, and how would anyone possess the kind of knowledge needed to back up that sweeping statement?

    Skeptics say we should go back to how we used to raise crops and livestock. But how far back should we go? To the 1950s? Or how about the 1870s? Maybe we could go back to when everyone raised just their own food?

    Broadly, it is frequently true that so-called sustainable practices are those techniques used before the combustion engine was invented. Every industry has adapted and used technology to improve production methods and output. That includes agriculture.

    From a farmer's perspective, there are two questions that should have to be answered before any agricultural practice can truly be considered sustainable. First, will the farm and ranch families implementing the practice be able to generate enough income to continue farming or ranching? Will those families be sustainable? And second, will the practice help producers increase food production to keep up with a growing population? If the answer to either of these questions is no, then, from my perspective, it should not be considered sustainable.

    If farmers and ranchers can't make a living, they obviously won't be around very long. That's not what I would call a sustainable practice. Or if America's farmers and ranchers are forced to use production methods that do not yield enough food for everyone, would you consider that sustainable? I wouldn't.

    At the end of the day, agriculture has a single, yet vital, responsibility—to provide food, fiber, fuel and other basics of life for an ever-growing world. The agriculture industry that some folks like to envision is better described as nostalgic rather than sustainable or even realistic. Our society wouldn't have developed into what it is today if 25 percent or more of our workforce was still required to grow food. For the past century, we have continually produced more food with less farm inputs. With the technologies available today, that trend will continue.

    American agriculture has a longer track record than any other sector in this country. Many families are producing food on the same land their ancestors did. That is proof of sustainability. Farmers and ranchers know a thing or two about being sustainable since our livelihood depends on it. It's time we take our word "sustainable" back and encourage everyone to think about and use its real definition.

    (Troy Hadrick, a South Dakota rancher, is a member of the American Farm Bureau's Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee. He may be contacted at

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    Wednesday, May 13, 2009

    Biofuels Done Right

    biofuels done right corn ethanol
    A new campaign by American farmers and supporters of biofuels now includes a full-page ad (pdf) running in Politico, a Capitol Hill newspaper.

    The ad stresses facts about corn and ethanol that are often distorted by critics:
    • Technological innovations over the last 20 years have cut the land needed to produce one bushel of corn (56 pounds) by 37 percent and decreased soil loss by 69 percent.
    • Energy used to produce a bushel of corn has decreased by 37 percent since 1987 and greenhouse gas emissions per bushel dropped 30 percent.
    • Over the past 25 years, farmers have slashed the amount of fertilizer required to grow corn. Producing a bushel of corn today requires nearly 40 percent less nitrogen than in 1980. 
    • Natural gas is by far the largest supplier of energy for ethanol production, used in 85 percent of ethanol production. 
    • Ethanol production results in nearly twice as much energy than used in its production – and using ethanol in place of conventional gasoline helps cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 59 percent.
    • Ethanol is replacing more and more foreign oil. The production of 9 billion gallons of ethanol in 2008 is equivalent to eliminating 10 months of imports from Venezuela.

    Tuesday, May 12, 2009

    Senator Thune Opposes EPA Indirect Land Use Proposal

    John Thune ethanol South Dakota Opposition continues to grow against the EPS's recent decision to include carbon outputs resulting from indirect land use in other countries when calculating ethanol's lifecycle carbon emissions.

    Senator John Thune (SD) recently spoke out against the EPA's decision:
    "Homegrown biofuels are a major component of our nation's strategy for energy independence, but the EPA's decision to measure carbon resulting from foreign indirect land use undercuts this effort," said Thune. "Ethanol is a clean, renewable fuel that creates thousands of jobs in this country, and the federal government should not use unproven models to undermine its success. This new EPA rule is a major blow to the renewable fuels industry."
    Opponents to ethanol continue to use shaky science to support their arguments.  All the while, the US continues its dependence on foreign high-priced oil.

    Monday, May 11, 2009

    Senator Lugar Slams EPA Ruling

    A proposed EPA rule uniquely applying a life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions standard to ethanol has been met with fierce opposition in the US Senate.

    Senator Lugar (IN) expressed his disappointment with the recent EPA decision:
    “At this time when we all seek to work with the President to improve the economy through new energy investment, it is unfathomable that the EPA would act to curtail a great boon to rural development,” U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar wrote today in a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson.
    Lugar said that the proposed EPA rule uniquely applying a life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions standard to ethanol was “highly speculative and imperfect” and “economic models simply do not accurately capture indirect emissions with an acceptable degree of certainty. . . I urge you to halt consideration of lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions due to lack of sufficient information, and work with Congress to find a workable solution.”

    The senator also spoke out against the new rule at the Senate Agriculture Committee Hearing on Thursday. Watch the video below.