Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Record Corn Crop Planted

planted corn fieldNever underestimate the American farmer, despite the many obstacles they face.

From wet weather during planting season, higher input costs for seeds and fertilizer, rising land prices and a tight credit market, America's farmers faced a host of obstacles in getting their fields planted this spring.

But today's crop report from the USDA certainly proves the resiliance of American corn growers.

united States Department of Agriculture
Farmers planted 87 million corn acres in 2009, up 1 million acres from last year. This is the second-largest corn acreage in more than 60 years, behind 2007 and is up 1% from last year.

Despite wet weather in many growing areas, farmers reported that 97 percent of intended corn acreage was planted by early June, compared with the 10-year average of 98 percent.

And despite the naysayers who continue to argue against the capabilities of America's agriculture, America can grow both Food AND Fuel.

Source: USDA

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Senate Finds Cause for Higher Food Prices

Senator Carl Levin
Did your pizza and PB&J sandwich really cost more because of ethanol?


A US Senate subcommittee, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations headed by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), has released a report finding that market speculation led to rising commodity prices last year.

Despite Big Food's attempt to blame rising food costs on corn ethanol, this new report confirms the cause for the rapid increase in the price of wheat. Followers of the food and fuel issue will recall that Big Food and the media falsely blamed rising wheat prices on corn ethanol. Campbell Soup's CEO was one of the food leaders who made this wild claim that was widely reported. (Read our rebuttal HERE)

The new report found that commodity traders bought up more than 200,000 wheat contracts by mid-2008 that fueled the record jump in prices which caused the rapid food prices for consumers.

The report found that large wheat purchases on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) drove up futures prices, disrupted the normal relationship between futures prices and cash prices for wheat, and caused farmers, grain elevators, grain processors, consumers, and others to experience significant unwarranted costs and price risks.
"It is another case of speculative money overwhelming a market, and federal regulators failing to take the steps needed to protect the market," said Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
Prices for most commodities soared to historic highs during the mid 2008. And the price of wheat soared to a high of $13.34 a bushel.
“The bottom line,” said Levin, “is that excessive speculation in commodity indexes has created losers throughout the wheat industry, from wheat farmers to grain elevators, grain merchants, grain processors, and grain users like bakeries and cereal companies. Those groups can’t manage their price risks through hedging, and are socked with unwarranted costs from higher margin calls and failed hedges. When those costs are passed onto consumers, the result is higher food prices.”
This report was issued earlier this week, and of course, has had little coverage by the media. But we didn't really expect to see much because it doesn't fuel the story they've already set in place.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Finding E85 Fuel Goes Mobile

mobile cell phone E85 ethanolFinding E85 fuel is easier with the new mobile fuel station finder from the Alternative Fuels & Advanced Vehicle Center.

Just visit http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/locator/m/station/ from your mobile phone to search for E85 Ethanol and other alternative fuel stations.

The Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center provides a wide range of information and resources to enable the use of alternative fuels.

This site joins the existing Near 85 site, http://www.neare85.com/ in providing locations to finding E85 ethanol fueling stations.

We also have a complete lists of site HERE for more resources on finding E85 stations.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

DOE Secretary Chu Supports E85 Flex Fuel Vehicles

US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu
US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu gave support for all new automobiles to be able to use E85 ethanol-blended fuel.

Chu gave his support for E85 Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFV) during a trip to Des Moines on Monday:
“I’ve been told it costs about $100 in gaskets and fuel lines to turn a car so that it can go all the way to E85,” said Chu. “But a new car , it would only cost $100 out of $15,000. Wouldn’t it be nice to put in those fuel lines and gaskets so that we can use any ratio we wanted. It’s just a thought, I don’t think you’re going to get any objections in this audience.”

Moving our nation's vehicle fleet to Flex Fuel Vehicles is really a no-brainer. And it's always been a chicken or egg issue. To move the country from being held hostage to foreign oil, we need a transportation fuel that performs, fueling stations across the country and vehicles that can run on the fuel. And ethanol is the model that works, now.

Secrerary Chu also commented positively on the pending waiver for E15 that the EPA has under consideration:
“I don’t want to prejudge what they’re going to find, but if the existing automobile fleet can handle 15 percent, I would say let’s make that a target and go to 15 percent.”
While Chu was in Des Moines, the secretary announced more than $16 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in Iowa.

Speaking in a news conference with Governor Chet Culver:
“This funding will provide an important boost for state economies, help put Americans back to work, and move us toward energy independence,” said Secretary Chu. “It reflects our commitment to support innovative state and local strategies to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy while insisting that taxpayer dollars be spent responsibly.”

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Big Food's Big Dividends

Big Lies are paying off for the Big Food companies.

Last year Big Food companies like Kraft Foods launched an all-out attack against biofuels. Through the Grocery Manufactures Association, the food industry leaders hired well-placed DC lobbyists and public relations firms to spew falsely that corn for ethanol was the major factor in food price increases.

And the major media just ate it all up: It must be ethanol that causes higher food prices.

We of course know the truth---corn for ethanol represents just a small part of most consumer food costs. Energy, packaging, marketing, transportation, labor and profits represent the major price components for consumer foods.

And a recent Congressional Budget Office study confirmed that ethanol production played only a small role in food price increases:
CBO estimates that from April 2007 to April 2008, the rise in the price of corn resulting from expanded pro-duction of ethanol contributed between 0.5 and 0.8 per-centage points of the 5.1 percent increase in food pricesmeasured by the consumer price index (CPI). Over the same period, certain other factors—for example, higherenergy costs—had a greater effect on food prices than didthe use of ethanol as a motor fuel
So who's profiting from the prices increases? Apparently, the owners of the Big Food companies.

Del Monte just announced that its Board of Directors approved a 25% increase in the quarterly dividend. And net revenue jumped last quarter for Kraft Foods based on higher prices. And the end of the second quarter will surely find more companies reaping the rewards of their higher supermarket prices and smaller packaging schemes.

So does anyone else even notice this "gouge and grab" by the Big Food companies? Maybe. It was enlightening to see the following story come across this week from MarketWatch:
The fact that the extreme volatility last year in the commodities markets has simmered down is another big plus for the food producers. Corn and fuel prices, despite recent rebounds, are still well below year-ago levels. This helps bulk up the bottom line.

At the same time, the best-run food companies have been getting away with judicious price hikes, correctly calculating that consumers -- perhaps especially in a recession -- will fork out a few extra pennies for their favorite comfort items.
So in these tough economic times, the Big Food companies are hoping you don't notice a few cents here or there or an ounce shaved off a box or bottole of your favorite food.

But the gig is up. Blaming ethanol for your higher profits is no way to run a company.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Saudi Sheikh Warns that Using Ethanol is a Sin

Sheikh Mohamed Al-Najimi ethanol sin
A prominent Saudi scholar has issued a warning to youths studying abroad against using ethanol in their cars since they could be committing a sin.

According to this report in Al Arabiya, using ethanol is a sin because it contains alcohol:
Sheikh Mohamed Al-Najimi, member of the Saudi Islamic Jurisprudence Academy, based his statement on a saying by the prophet that prohibited all kinds of dealings with alcohol including buying, selling, carrying, serving, drinking, and manufacturing, the Saudi newspaper Shams reported Thursday.
The article notes that this is not an official fatwa and just a personal opinion that should be studied more.

Maybe it's just a coincidence that Saudi Arabia is the world's major oil producing country and holds a vast reserve of oil.

So we'll just offer our own positions regarding biofuels.

It's a sin that American consumers are sending their money to repressive regimes around the world because we're held hostage by foreign oil.

It's a sin that Americans die in foreign conflicts to protect these foreign oil reserves.

It's a sin that Americans continue to be forced to use dirty fossil fuels rather than cleaner burning renewable fuels like ethanol.

It's a sin that Americans aren't fully employed working on building a vibrant renewable fuel industry for a stronger America.

Source: Al Arabiya

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Waste Material to Power Ethanol Plant

Critics of renewable American biofuels like ethanol know that killing off corn ethanol now with junk science and wild theories would end the drive for any future cellulosic ethanol---fuels made from a variety of plants and waste materials.

Without the infrastructure and investments in today's ethanol, there can never be tomorrow's ethanol.

So it's good to see the industry moving forward with technology that continues to drive lower the costs and inputs for ethanol production. Ethanol is good today and it will be even better tomorrow.

POET ethanol corn cobs
POET, a leader in the ethanol industry, announced today that a self-sustaining energy cycle for producing cellulosic ethanol is close to reality with the recent startup of an anaerobic digester at POET’s pilot plant in Scotland, South Dakota.

corn cob harvest ethanol
Corn cobs at Project LIBERTY will not only be used to produce ethanol; the liquid waste will go to an anaerobic digester to power the cellulosic plant and offset natural gas usage at the attached grain ethanol plant as well. That’s renewable energy created at the plant, powering the plant and powering the adjacent facility.

POET installed and fired up its anaerobic digester, which was designed and built by Biothane, on May 20. The digester uses liquid waste created in the process of converting corn cobs to ethanol. That waste is used to produce methane gas, which acts as roughly the equivalent of natural gas.

"This technology will cut fossil fuels out of our cellulosic ethanol production process and further improve the benefits of grain-based ethanol," POET CEO Jeff Broin said. "Over the long term, POET would like to eliminate the use of fossil fuels at all of our plants through a variety of alternative energy sources." The alternative energy technologies employed at other POET facilities include a solid waste fuel boiler, landfill gas and cogeneration.
The digester is in the research phase - corn cobs have never been used in this way before. The methane is currently being flared, but once the process is refined, it will be installed as part of Project LIBERTY.

Project LIBERTY is a 25 million gallon-per-year cellulosic ethanol plant, which will be built in Emmetsburg, Iowa. Research and development work is on schedule for the plant to begin production in 2011.

Source: POET

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Iran's Oil Disruption Cause For US Concern

Mahmoud AhmadinejadThe violently contested presidential election in Iran between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and reformist Mir Hossein Mousavi could cause major disruptions in world oil supplies and prices.

And that means bad news for US consumers.

Even though US companies are prohibited from buying Iran's oil, buyers of Iran's oil would be forced to buy from other suppliers. This would rasie prices for all buyers, including for US oil companies.

This has all happened before. Reuters reports today that Iran's oil shortfalls after the Islamic Revolution in 1978 contributed to the US recession in 1980 and 1981:
The disruption was keenly felt by top oil consumer the United States, which had to ration fuel. The shortfall ruptured global supply lines, sparked panic-buying and saw a sharp rise in oil prices that contributed to the U.S. recessions of 1980 and 1981.
us gasoline prices June 2009 department of energy
This is all potential bad news as oil prices and higher gasoline prices for US consumers continue to climb to new highs for the year.

Just this past week, according to the US Department of Energy, the average price of gasoline rose 5 cents per gallon topping to $2.67. This is up nearly $1.00 from the beginning of the year.

Americans should not be held hostage again to Iranian politics.

One of the best reasons for building and maintaining a domestic renewable biofuels industry, including ethanol, remains breaking free from the shackles of foreign oil.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Iowa Corn Ethanol Powers Iowa Corn Indy 250

Iowa Corn Indy 250 ethanol
Who says ethanol lacks power?

The Iowa Corn Indy 250 will be showcasing 100% race powered corn-ethanol during the 3rd annual race in Newton, Iowa on June 21, 2009.

The Iowa Corn Promotion Board and the Iowa Corn Grower's Association are proud to be partnering with presenting sponsor, Pioneer, and the Iowa Speedway to show the world what ethanol can do.

Power, performance, and energy independence are just a couple benefits from using ethanol to power the IndyCar Series cars at almost 200 miles per hour.

More information and race schedule are available at the Iowa Speedway HERE.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

USDA Meets President Obama's 30-Day Biofuels Directive

USDA biofuels
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the USDA met its 30-day deadline to help produce more energy from homegrown, renewable sources.
"Further developing the biofuels industry helps create jobs and stimulates rural economies, an important part of getting our economy back on track," said Vilsack. "President Obama and I are committed to advancing clean and renewable energy as it creates jobs domestically and boosts tax revenues at all levels of government."
On May 5, President Obama asked USDA to expedite the biofuels provisions of the energy title of the 2008 Farm Bill within 30 days, including the following:
  • Providing loan guarantees and grants for biorefineries;
  • Expediting funding to encourage biorefineries to replace the use of fossil fuels in plant operations;
  • Expediting funding to encourage production of next-generation biofuels;
  • Expanding the Rural Energy for America Program; and
  • Providing guidance and support for collection, harvest, storage, and transportation in biomass conversion facilities.
Details about USDA's recent efforts to support the biofuels industry are:

Loan Guarantees for Biorefineries.
USDA is currently reviewing a $25 million loan guarantee application to retrofit a biodiesel refinery to produce second-generation biofuels. The funding of this venture will be the second such guarantee to be funded under the 2008 Farm Bill. In January, USDA awarded an $80 million loan guarantee for the production of cellulosic ethanol. A second round of applications received as part of an April 30, 2009 solicitation for applications is currently under review. These involve second- and third-generation biofuel technologies to produce cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, and methane gas and electricity. Awards for the second round are projected for Sept. 15, 2009

Assistance for Biorefineries Replacing Fossil Fuels.
USDA will provide up to $20 million to offer financial assistance to biorefineries to replace fossil fuels used to produce heat or operate biorefineries with renewable biomass.

Encourage Production of Next-Generation Biofuels.
USDA will provide $30 million to provide payments to eligible agricultural producers to support and ensure an expanding production of advanced biofuels.

Source: USDA

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Indirect Land Use: Science or Junk?

junk science indirect land use
If you go to the store and buy groceries, are you causing massive deforrestation somewhere in the world, increased greenhouse gases and contributing to global warming?

Many critics of biofuels have developed "scientific" models that support that argument.  And they've extended that model to any land that is used for food AND fuel such as ethanol.  Use some biofuels and you've wiped out a forrest, or so their theory goes.

But the scientific community is hardly convinced that this model is valid. Recently, a group of leading scientists submitted comments(pdf) regarding the indirect land use model developed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).  The scientists called out two major issues:
  • The Science Is Far Too Limited and Uncertain For Regulatory Enforcement
  • Indirect Effects Are Often Misunderstood And Should Not Be Enforced Selectively
And renown author Robert Zubin also takes on the irrational Indirect Land Use analysis in a recent Roll Call article:  The Irreationality of Indirect Analsysis":
"the proper, scientific, ethical and sane way to proceed in assessing carbon emissions, whether of ethanol use or any other human activity, is to base such judgments strictly on the direct effects of the activity itself. These can be measured and therefore reduced in detail as technological alternatives permit. If we operate otherwise, then no constructive solutions will be possible."
Let's hope that in the rush to kill the renewable fuels, calmer heads will prevail.  

Because creating models against ethanol that includes biased assumptions only hampers our efforts to break free from the well-known dangers of foreign oil.

Source: Roll Call

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pennsylvania Seeks Federal Funds for Biofuels

Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell biofuels
Pennsylvania governor Edward G. Rendell wants to expand the use of biodiesel and alternative fuel vehicles.

The commonwealth has applied to the U.S. Department of Energy for $15 million through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.
“As part of Pennsylvania’s Energy Independence Strategy, the PennSecurity Fuels Initiative mandates the production and use of renewable fuels to grow the state’s economy and reduce our dependence on foreign fuels,” said Governor Rendell. “The federal recovery money can assist us in our efforts to reach the required goal of one billion gallons of home-grown biofuels be produced and consumed in Pennsylvania by 2017 – an amount equal to what the state will import from the Persian Gulf by that time.”

“The primary objective of this grant is to displace petroleum-based diesel fuel with domestically produced biodiesel and natural gas to fulfill the state’s and federal government’s goals to establish long-term alternative fuel use,” said Governor Rendell. “Adding these alternative fuel facilities and vehicles will enable greater access to biodiesel and CNG within the petroleum supply chain and improve fuel quality.”
The state proposes to install 23 biofuel terminals and four retail stations throughout the state as well as purchase natural gas vehicles, facilities and equipment.  

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Study Shows Reducing Gasoline Emissions Will Benefit Human Health

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
A new study shows that a biofuel eliminating even 10-percent of current gasoline pollutant emissions would have a substantial impact on human health in this country, especially in urban areas.
“While the successful deployment of biofuels requires research to overcome technical barriers, there are other barriers that can often impose constraints more challenging than those related to technical feasibility, including constraints imposed by health risks,” says Thomas McKone, an expert on health risk assessments who holds a joint appointment with Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division and the University of California Berkeley’s School of Public Health. 

“Just think, if we had done a life cycle impact assessment on the human health effects of gasoline years ago we might not be in the situation we’re facing today.”

A grant from the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) has produced the comprehensive LCIA “Life Cycle Impact Assessment” to measure the benefits on human health that might result from a switch to biofuels.   EBI is a partnership between UC Berkeley, Berkeley Lab, the University of Illinois and BP, the energy corporation that has provided EBI with a 10-year $500-million grant.
“We found that for the vehicle operation phase of our LCIA, the annual health damages avoided in the U.S. with 10-percent less gasoline-run motor vehicle emissions ranges from about 5,000 to 20,000 DALY, with most of the damage resulting from primary fine particle emissions,” said McKone. “
This new study further confirms the mountain of evidence of the benefits of biofuels.

America needs to move from a gasoline-based transportation fuel for numerous reasons--environmental, economic, national security, and now, health.

Read more the study HERE

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

OPEC Calls for Higher Fuel Prices

OPEC oil gas
Oil and gas prices have risen again in the wake of OPEC's call for the price of a barrel of crude oil to rise to much higher levels.  
"The price will go to $80-$90 maybe at the beginning of 2010," OPEC's Abdullah al-Badri told the Reuters Global Energy Summit.
The price of oil has risen to nearly $70 this past week.

Dept of Energy average gas price June
And higher oil costs means that American motorists will continue to see higher fuel prices at the pumps.

In the past week, the average price of unleaded gas in the US rose nearly 9 cents a gallon to $2.52.

All of this means that hard working Americans will be paying more out of their pocket to fuel the economies---and politics---of OPEC countries.

This ominous warning that oil prices will continue to increase comes at a critical time for US policy makers.  

In the past weeks the US has continued to borrow heavily from the Chinese government to pay for deficit spending and two great US automakers, General Motors and Chrysler, have gone bankrupt. Unemployment is rising and thousands more will soon be out of work.

Now billions more will be siphoned off from the US economy to countries who are not our friends.

The time is now for Ameria to regain its national and energy security.  The time is now to build American jobs here in America.

It's time to fully endorse renewable domestic biofuels.

Monday, June 1, 2009

EPA Needs to Get Its Facts Right on Corn Ethanol

EPA Environmental Protection Agency corn ethanol acreIn the ongoing national debate about suspect calculations and assumptions created by the EPA to measure indirect land use for ethanol production, it's important that the EPA use sound science and real facts.

Just making up numbers to support a point of view is always a bad idea.

So it was very disheartening to see that wildly wrong information about corn ethanol seems to be flying around the EPA.

In testimony to House Small Business Committee Subcommittee, an EPA official (Office of Transportation and Air Quality) falsely testifies that it takes 64 acres of corn to produce one gallon of ethanol.

The truth is that every bushel of corn produces about about 3 gallons of ethanol.  And every acre produces on average over 150 bushels of corn.  And most importantly, every gallon of ethanol also produces valuable co-products like Dried Distillers Grains that remain highly nutritious as animal feed. Corn ethanol is both food AND fuel.

The EPA needs to get its facts right and not just make stuff up.

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