Posted By Cathryn January 7, 2014
With temperatures well below normal across much of the country, stories focused on how to best handle the problems that accompany an arctic blast dominate newspapers, radio and television alike. One from South Dakota, where they contend with this type of winter wonderland on a regular basis, points out how ethanol blends in automotive fuel actually helps keep drivers up and going.
While Keloland Television notes that it is still important to start cars regularly, it points out that ethanol actually keeps non-diesel vehicles in commission during cold snaps.
“Most everything has an ethanol blend to it, which acts as a heat, if you will, to keep the moisture dispersed. So, not a super-huge issue.”
Whether you must brave the windy roads or can stay hunkered down by a warm fire, know that ethanol in your tank makes it more likely your car will start when the snow finally stops. Proper maintenance makes all the difference, but ethanol gives motorists an added bonus beyond its benefit to their environment and their pocketbooks.
Posted By Cindy January 2, 2014
As you are making your list of 2014 New Year’s Resolutions, one of them should be to do your part to help protect the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
Unless your voice is heard, the Environmental Protection Agency will approve its proposal made on November 15 to cap corn-based ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply this year at 13 billion gallons, cutting 1.4 billion gallons from what it was supposed to be under the law.
The comment period on the proposal is open until January 28. If you believe the RFS is working as intended, if it has helped you personally and/or your rural community, if you think it is good for America that we have more renewable fuels, not less – let the EPA know.
The National Corn Growers Association has information on how to submit comments and drafts of possible comments that you can personalize – your story is what matters. You can also write your own letter, if you prefer, and send it to:
Environmental Protection Agency, Mailcode: 2822T
Air and Radiation Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0479
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460
Watch this great video by the Missouri Corn Growers that tells “the greatest story never told” – Quiet Revolution: The Ethanol Story.
Posted By Cindy December 19, 2013
Six years ago today, President George W. Bush signed into law the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), which greatly expanded Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to become the RFS2. The goals of the new standard were to reduce our dependence on oil, confront global climate change, and expand production of renewable fuels for the security of future generations.
To celebrate that anniversary, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has released a detailed analysis of where we are today compared to six years ago in the areas of renewable fuels production, economic activity, agricultural impacts, environmental issues, fuel prices, import dependence, and food prices.
“The RFS has indeed lived up to its promise in building out a renewable fuels industry, in reducing dependence on imported petroleum, in stimulating the agricultural economy,” says RFA Vice President of Research and Analysis Geoff Cooper, who compiled the analysis from a variety of resources. “At the same time the RFS has simply not had the impacts on the environment and food markets that detractors of the program have claimed.”
For example, Cooper says the size of the Gulf hypoxia zone is 27% smaller than it was in 2007. “In fact, last year the hypoxic zone was the smallest it has been in 12 years,” he said. Amazon deforestation is down 60% since 2007 and transportation sector CO2 emissions are down more than 10 percent.
When it comes to food prices, Cooper says they have increased about in line with general inflation while some items like milk and eggs are actually cheaper than they were in 2007 – and corn prices are almost the same. “The day President Bush signed this bill into law, corn prices were $4.34 a bushel,” said Cooper. The season average price this year is $4.40 per bushel.
Meanwhile, the price for a barrel of oil is up nearly 50% – up to over $108 compared to $72 in 2007.
So, tell us again why we should mess with the RFS?
Read the analysis and listen to the details here: RFA Celebrates Six Years of RFS
Posted By Mark December 19, 2013
I am rapidly getting in the holiday spirit but before I get to relaxed and magnanimous I have to send one final love letter to my friends in the petroleum industry. So with thoughts of sugar plums dancing in my head here goes:
In doing my regular reading today I came across three separate stories that if looked at individually are disturbing. The first touts fracking as the main driver in a U.S. energy revolution.
“America is in the midst of a game-changing energy revolution. This potential has been unlocked by innovations in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling that have made America the world’s top energy producer,” John Felmy, the American Petroleum Institute’s chief economist said. said.
No argument there but let’s drop the other shoe or pair of shoes if you will. I keep asking the same questions regarding fracking; at what cost? What are the environmental consequences of this intrusive, earth rending form of energy extraction? How long will the boom last?
More and more experts are saying enjoy our current respite of available energy because it won’t last. And now the US Coast Guard is looking into the possibility of allowing fracking waste to be barged along American rivers. Granted if they have to ship it this is likely the best way (or at least safest and most economical way), but isn’t it enough that international oil has slimed our oceans on a consistent basis for decades. Now they want to put these toxic substances on our rivers and risk our fresh water too?
Thus, the second article and issue; Every year petroleum finds itself wrapped up in a string of environmental misadventures, and many take place in remote locations and out of the glare of public scrutiny diminishing the attention but not the damage done. From pipeline spills in Arkansas to explosions in Qingdao, China petroleum is the gift that keeps on giving.
Sure they get fined, but amounts that amount to pocket change for Big Oil. On the rare occasion they really get their hand slapped, such as the with the Deep Water Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, they put on a good show for the media and as time passes they fight in court to get those penalties reduced.
The third leg of this nauseating oil epic is the ongoing efforts by the Obama Administration (hey, it’s your Environmental Protection Agency so you better own it) proposal to hamstring the only economically viable and environmentally responsible alternative to oil….ethanol.
For 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a 1.4 billion gallon reduction in how much corn ethanol will be required under the Renewable Fuel Standard, the federal law that helps get domestic, renewable, cleaner-burning corn ethanol blended in the nation’s fuel supply.
“It is unfortunate that the Obama administration has caved in to Big Oil rather than stand up for rural America and the environment,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey at a Protect the RFS rally on November 22, 2013. “The renewable fuels standard needs to be protected as it has helped hold down prices at the pump, created thousands of jobs in rural Iowa, and benefited the environment. The President should be focused on jobs and the economy rather than looking for ways to hurt rural America.” Read more here.
It’s still not too late to do something about this. So if you support renewable ethanol and want to put the environment back in EPA send a note. Oh, and Merry Christmas.
Posted By Cathryn December 18, 2013
Washington-insider newspaper, The Hill, published its top ten list of lobbying victories in 2013 today and, in doing so, dealt a death blow to arguments that the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to lower the volume of ethanol required under the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2014 is based in a sound argument. Giving the number five slot to the American Petroleum Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing, and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, the paper chalked up the decision as a big win for big oil’s powerful lobby.
“The oil and gas industry, with a little help from food producers, won a victory over the ethanol mandate in 2013.
“Breaking with precedent, the Environmental Protection Agency for the first time declined to increase the amount of ethanol and other biofuels that must be mixed into gasoline.
“The EPA is now proposing to lower the mandate, beginning what ethanol opponents hope will be a steady retreat away from the fuel requirements in the years ahead.”
The EPA, a government agency presumably tasked with basing decisions in sound science with consideration given to economic implications, should be better than this. Depriving American consumers of renewable, sustainable biofuels in the service of Big Oil does not make environmental or economic sense. This politically-motivated policy does not meet the high standard the American people should set for such a powerful agency.
Let the EPA know that its proposed rule will be scrutinized outside of the Beltway, where the tax revenue that supports DC salaries is actually generated. Learn more about NCGA’s Don’t Gut the RFS campaign by clicking here.
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.
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