Posted By Mark December 11, 2013
What was the second biggest policy story of the year in eyes of the petroleum industry? According to a recent membership survey by the American Petroleum Institute reconsidering biofuel (ethanol) blending. What was the second biggest transportation, storage and refining story of the year? The battle over biofuels blending. And what was listed 2nd on oil’s list of things they most want to see happen in 2014? Yep, reduction in EPA blending requirements.
Most of the public are too focused on their jobs, raising families and just paying the bills to have a deep understanding of the growing role of biofuels and renewable ethanol in our nation. However, years of education by supporters of the domestic fuel have generated a basic awareness of ethanol’s benefits such as job creation, reducing greenhouse gas, and providing a fuel choice that makes us less reliant on imported petroleum.
Because of this hard fought and well deserved perception that ethanol is good, many of my friends have been asking me lately what the heck is going on with the rash of negative information related to ethanol. How did proven ethanol suddenly become a bad idea over night? Most recently, the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to reduce the amount of ethanol to be blended in our fuel supply has been getting a lot of media attention.
Put simply, the oil industry has always been ok with ethanol as long as the market share didn’t get too large. In fact they need a certain amount of ethanol because it allows them to provide a high octane product at less cost…meaning more margin for them. Without ethanol they would be forced to do more extensive and costly refining in order to produce a product that won’t leave your car sputtering curbside.
But in today’s market things have changed. Increasing domestic oil production, more fuel efficient vehicles and a soft economy have shrunk the volume of fuel needed. Thus big oil finds themselves looking at the bigger market slice on ethanol’s plate and thinks “hey we want some of that back.”
The unspoken part of the previous statement is “and yes we will pay nicely to get it.” And they have done so in recent years. Their most recent onslaught has been sustained by millions of dollars of lobbying, advertising and poor pseudo-journalism.
You might be inclined to think the family farmers and independent businessmen that make up the ethanol industry are just paranoid but given the aforementioned high priority petroleum has placed on this issue, “it ain’t paranoia if they’re really out to get ya.”
Posted By Mark November 26, 2013
If you happen to be an ethanol proponent and you get asked by friends over the holiday what all the hub-bub is about related to the Environmental Protection Agency and their recent ethanol snub, just tell them to follow the money.
You see the stock values of four of the five biggest oil companies surged by a combined $23 billion in a single day after the Obama administration proposed to scale back the biofuel blending requirements, according to Americans United for Change.
“Big Oil hit the jackpot, but we are risking a huge slowdown in the development of next generation biofuels that are our best hope for reducing America’s dangerous dependence on foreign oil,” said Brad Woodhouse, the group’s president.
It almost appears that the administration is succumbing to the pressure and millions of dollars spent by big oil to slander ethanol in order to avoid another self-inflicted political wound, said one Washington insider. “Obamacare is too white hot for them to risk another hot potato and the petroleum industry made a lot of noise in Congress. The only way to overturn this EPA proposed action is to make them equally uncomfortable.”
In the interim one unavoidable fact remains in the favor of ethanol proponents…the Renewable Fuels Standard was designed by Congress to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and give consumers a fuel choice. It has done that nicely and created jobs and saved consumers money in the process.
It has honestly been awhile since the nation’s family farmers who grow corn have been in a political gunfight of this magnitude, but this is a fight worth winning. Corn prices below the cost of production should provide a powerful incentive. Stay tuned in the weeks ahead and be prepared to take action when the time comes.
Posted By Cindy November 26, 2013
Against a backdrop of golden distillers grains, a parade of speakers from state and federal government leaders to local corn farmers and ethanol plant owners spoke out Friday in Iowa against the EPA proposal to lower the volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2014.
“The EPA proposal for 2014 guts the RFS which would lead to higher gasoline prices and lower farm income,” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw at the “Protect the RFS” event held at Lincolnway Energy near Nevada, Iowa..
“The federal government made a commitment to renewable energy, and the EPA is undermining the commitment,” said Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). “All of us who support homegrown, clean-burning energy and forward-thinking energy policy need to speak out and let the Administration know that its proposal is short-sighted and irresponsible.”
“We all need to stand together in opposition to this EPA proposal,” said Iowa Governor Terry Branstad who started a website and petition drive ProtectTheRFS.com.
Others who spoke at the Iowa RFS Coalition event included Congressman Steve King, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and former National Corn Growers Association president Bill Northey, Iowa Corn Growers Association President Roger Zylstra, Lincolnway Energy CEO Eric Hakmiller, Absolute Energy CEO Rick Schwarck, among others.
The EPA publicly announced the proposal on November 15, but it has yet to be published in the Federal Register, which must be done before comments can be submitted. What has been published in the Federal Register is a notice for a public hearing to be held on the proposal Dec. 5 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va. “The event will begin at 9:00 a.m. and end when all parties present who wish to speak have had the opportunity to do so.” This could be a very long hearing.
Posted By Mark November 22, 2013
They call it black gold and Texas Tea but I prefer to call it environmental anathema; that rare combination of disgrace and abomination. Better that than using the words that I would like to use that got my mouth washed out with soap as a child.
Ok, Thanksgiving is almost upon us so I want to purge a little bile so I will enjoy the day a little more. What better target than Big Oil?
You know, those heavily subsidized global scale polluters who control…I mean contribute to every politician to make sure they have their bases covered. Well after an announcement today, I guess we will see how well their “investment” pays off.
It seems gas and oil are almost singlehandedly responsible for the bulk of all the man-made global warming emissions since the dawn of the industrial revolution. Chevron, Exxon and BP are among the companies most responsible for climate change since dawn of industrial age, according to a new analysis.
The climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 companies, which between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the dawning of the industrial age, new research suggests.
I have always been a big fan of irony but this week takes the cake. It seemed bizarre that earlier this week EPA announced their proposal to significantly weaken the Renewable Fuel Standard, reducing the volume of renewable fuels like ethanol for 2014; thus making us even more dependent on oil.
Odd that an agency with “Environment” in their name would turn away from a program that has cut emissions of greenhouse gas by 110 million metric tons, making it one of the most successful programs in the EPA arsenal. This is the equivalent of taking more than 20 million vehicles off the road.
Now it will get even more interesting to see how this same administration that purports to be on a crusade to fight greenhouse gases will deal with Big Oil now that the emperor has no clothes.
Posted By Cindy November 20, 2013
Even though the industry had already gotten wind that the Environmental Protection Agency was contemplating lowering the volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), it was still a shock to everyone when it was actually released Friday. Reaction continues to come in this week from all sides of the issue. At last count, I have received press releases on the topic from 54 different organizations and companies and there have been at least a half dozen press conferences about it.
The proposed rule caps corn-based ethanol at 13 billion gallons, cutting 1.4 billion gallons from what it was supposed to be under the law, even as corn growers are harvesting a record crop of nearly 14 billion bushels.
Press releases against the EPA proposal came from all biofuel and general farm organizations, as well as the corn and soybean growers, several members of Congress, and groups such as VoteVets.org and Americans United for Change. However, there were many organizations and lawmakers who applauded the proposal – or said it didn’t go far enough – including the American Petroleum Institute (API) and groups representing meat producers, restaurants, and motorcyclists. Googling around on the topic, it seems like those against the proposal are getting more ink, which could be an indicator of the comments EPA may receive on it.
There are actually two separate EPA proposals that will be open to a 60-day public comment period. First is the proposal to lower the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) requirement for 2014 below the congressional mandate to 15.21 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel. A second, separate proposal is for a waiver of the renewable fuel standards that would apply in 2014. In addition, the EPA is specifically requesting input on how to increase the market penetration for higher ethanol blends such as E15 and E85.
“I am pleased that EPA is requesting comments on how we can help the biofuels industry expand the availability of high-ethanol blends, and I hope the industry uses the comment period to provide constructive suggestions,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. He and EPA administrator Gina McCarthy stress that biofuels continue to be a key part of the Obama administration’s ‘all of the above’ energy strategy. “We look forward to working with all stakeholders to develop a final rule that maintains the strength and promise of the RFS program,” said McCarthy.
Posted By Cathryn November 13, 2013
Lately, many more people have become familiar with the concept of a blend wall. Claiming the Renewable Fuel Standard mandates levels of ethanol use too high to be met in the face of declining fuel consumption, the oil industry wants a waiver.
According to information released today by the Renewable Fuel Association, the entire concept of a blend wall is bogus. With more than 70 percent of the top selling cars approved for E15 usage by their own manufacturers in 2014, consumers can now make choices based in years of scientific testing instead of blindly buying into big oil’s murky malarkey. Consumers can choose E15.
Owners of all Ford, GM and Volkswagen 2014 models and certain models of Honda, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Land Rover have been given their maker’s blessing to buy E15, which had already been approved for use in cars model year 2001 or newer by the Environmental Protection Agency. Seemingly, the only place the blend wall remains relevant are in the hearts and minds of money-loving oil oligarchs.
Petro propaganda does serve a purpose. It helps petro-pushers keep a larger share of declining consumer fuel dollars in their pockets. One cannot fault corporations operating in a capitalist market for trying to protect their profits. They can fault them for perpetrating a gross injustice against Americans by doing so through lies and manipulation.
Automakers know their innovative, well-designed products run well on an innovative, well-designed fuel. They see that Americans need biofuels because they need cleaner air, energy security and a renewable fuel source that grows along with them. They are joining the mounting movement to tear down the old blend wall mentality.
Learn more about how to join them by clicking here or visit ChooseEthanol.com to see if new car you are considering is among the 70 percent that will fuel America’s biofuels future.
Posted By Cindy November 11, 2013
Leroy Perkins is “a white-haired, 66-year-old farmer in denim overalls” who is “agonizing” over whether he should put the “91 acres that he set aside for conservation years ago” into corn production. That is according to an Associated Press “investigative report” on the environmental impact of ethanol being released this week that features Leroy and Wayne County Iowa where he lives.
That’s not the story Leroy thought they were doing when he was contacted by AP reporters in July to talk about “the county fair, along with absentee, out-of-state state landlords and of course, water quality.” During the course of the interview, one of the reporters asked him what he thought about ethanol. “I told them I was for ethanol, I believe in it and we use it in our vehicles and equipment all the time … because it’s a product of the land,” he said. He never expected his interview would be for a “story to put down ethanol.”
The AP print and broadcast story is scheduled for publication after midnight November 12, but a draft copy for promotional purposes was circulated on the internet last week and seen by industry stakeholders and people like Leroy who were quoted in the piece.
Much of the pre-released article is focused on making the case for how ethanol policy is “raping the land” by encouraging more corn acreage. “The AP article tried to paint Wayne County as a poster child for cropland expansion under the RFS but they … omitted some key facts,” said Geoff Cooper, Vice President of Research and Analysis for the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). “Farmers in Wayne County Iowa planted far more corn in the past than they do today,” he added, noting that 88,000 acres were planted in 1985 compares to 58,000 last year.
Cooper and the RFA have put together a Counterpoint Fact Sheet on AP story which refutes at least 16 direct quotes from the draft article and he says industry representatives have been in touch with the news agency. “There has been some effort to get these factual inaccuracies corrected,” said Cooper. “If the story we saw that was posted last week is the same story that gets rolled out tomorrow morning, that tells us the AP just isn’t concerned about running a factual story.”
The Associated Press supplies content to thousands of print, internet, radio and television outlets around the world.
Listen to the call with Leroy and Geoff here:AP ethanol story fact check call
Posted By Cindy November 5, 2013
After a slow start, the 2013 harvest is pretty much back on schedule in most of the country, but it seems late compared to last year’s record pace.
As of Sunday, USDA reports 73 percent of the corn crop was harvested, two points ahead of average, but more than 20% less than last year at this time. Only a few states are running behind at this point.
Missouri is exactly on pace with the five year average at 82% complete by Sunday. Last week, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon joined the Missouri Corn Growers Association at a grain elevator in the northeast part of the state to celebrate the success of the season’s crop.
“Right now, state corn yields statewide are up and we’re seeing averages pushing well above 125 bushels per acre with some farmers reporting high yields of about 200 bushels per acre in this region,” said Nixon.
MCGA CEO Gary Marshall says the Missouri crop is “one of the largest we’ve ever had” and believes the nation’s crop this year will be “the largest in history.” USDA will be coming out with the latest crop estimate on Friday.
The governor had lots of praise for corn farmers and the added value they provide to the state’s economy in the form of ethanol production and exports. Listen to his remarks here: Missouri Governor Jay Nixon
Pictured here in this photo from MCGA: Acting Director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture Harry Bozoian, Gary Marshall, Gov. Jay Nixon and ADM Director of State Government Relations Chris Riley.
Posted By Cindy November 5, 2013
Big Oil continues to attack the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in every way possible, while denying that it receives any type of federal help to maintain its marketplace advantage. Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) created a couple of “fact check” videos of comments made by American Petroleum Institute’s (API) Bob Greco. There were so many hits they had to make two volumes!
Posted By Mark October 30, 2013
Ethanol isn’t poison and gasoline is. There….I have said it. It boggles my mind how much of the public buys into the oil industry propaganda related to ethanol, most notably some of the environmental community. Why someone who considers themselves an environmentalist would listen to big oil on energy topics and what is best for consumers leaves me perplexed. Even on a good day when gasoline isn’t $3 to $4 a gallon, it remains a really bad idea when it comes to our health and the environment.
Ethanol is ethanol. There are no additives and it is the same product chemically that some drink in the form of martinis and other cocktails. Drink ethanol and you just think you are better looking and funnier. Drink gasoline and you get dead. Gasoline has terrible environmental risk and repercussions and they are getting worse as we find new ways to dig, steam, and frack to get it out of the ground and the ocean bottom.
However, that is just the beginning of making commercial gasoline. Gasoline starts out as poison and it only gets better as dozens of chemicals can get mixed into the product. They get mixed in to make gas burn better during different seasons, to add octane, and even as a way for the oil industry to charge you for some byproducts of gasoline manufacturing that they otherwise would have to dispose of as toxic waste.
To this day one of my favorite news cartoons of all time showed the Exxon Valdez oil spill with petroleum covered wildlife effected by the disaster. The next panel showed an ethanol spill and featured google-eyed sea otters, dolphin and fish who apparently had been to happy hour.
I am a typical blogger. I have lots of opinions and I like words. But in this case I think I will show good judgement and just shut up and let the accompanying image tell the rest of the story. Take my word for it that many of these chemicals are even worse for your personal health and our future than they sound.
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