Oil Giants Lining Pocket in Wake of EPA Announcement

In Activism, Administration, Ethanol, Politics by Mark

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.

In Defense of the RFS

In Biofuels, Current News, Ethanol, government by Cindy

defend-rfsAgainst 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.

In World of Polluters Oil Has No Rivals

In Administration, American Ethanol, Biofuels, Conservation, Ethanol, Events, government, Policy, Politics, Sustainability by Mark

oil & $100 billThey 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.




Classic + Ag Connect = Really Big Show

In Audio, Commodity Classic by Cindy

nafb13-aem-classicWith corn, soybeans, wheat and sorghum growers all part of the Commodity Classic, who thought it could get any bigger?

But it will definitely be bigger in 2016 when Classic joins forces with AG CONNECT expo to become what may well be the biggest farm show on Earth.

“2016 will be the opening salvo into a new bigger, better,” said 2014 Commodity Classic chair Rob Elliott of Illinois. “The synergy aspect of it could be fairly significant.”

I talked with Rob at the NAFB Trade Talk about the partnership for 2016, as well as what is in store for 2014 in San Antonio and a little bit about this season on his farm near Monmouth, Illinois. Interview with Rob Elliott, NCGA

Sara Mooney, AG CONNECT show director with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, says there are lots of details to work out in the next two years, but they are really excited. “The producers that attended AG CONNECT and our exhibitors and other stakeholders are really going to find that this combined event is really greater than its two parts alone,” she said. “More technology, more engagement with the whole ag community, more experts to talk to, more industry leaders – just more of that quality experience.”

Listen to my interview with Sara here: Interview with Sara Mooney, AEM

2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Reaction to EPA RFS Proposal

In Ethanol by Cindy

epa logoEven 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.

Corn Commentary for Farm Broadcasters

In Audio, Farm Bill, Media, USDA by Cindy

There was lots of corn commentating going on last week at the 70th annual National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) annual meeting in Kansas City.

nafb13-martinThe National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is a big supporter of the guys and gals who put farm news on radio and television stations and the internet. “It gives us the opportunity to get our message out to the public and to farmers,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre.

NCGA sponsors the welcoming reception for the NAFB and then organization leaders do tons of interviews with the broadcasters during the annual Trade Talk, which is where I interviewed Martin about a number of topics, including but not limited to, the farm bill and WRRDA. Interview with NCGA president Martin Barbre

nafb13-ncgaNCGA First Vice President Chip Bowling of Maryland was also on hand to chat with the broadcasters. He also talked about the farm bill, like everyone else, and about environmental regulations in his area around the Chesapeake Bay that are threatening agricultural producers.

It was especially interesting to farm broadcasters from the Midwest to get a different perspective on corn farming from a producer on the East coast. “In the Mid-Atlantic, we started planting corn right around the first of April, we had a good start and the corn crop just took off from the get-go and grew,” said Chip, noting it was a lot different this year in the Corn Belt. “Obviously with 14 billion bushels coming off, somebody grew a lot of good corn.”

Leah Guffey interviews Chip here: Interview with NCGA first VP Chip Bowling

2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Anti-HFCS Activists Take Losing Case to Court House from Court of Public Opinion

In HFCS by Cathryn

It would be hard to find any person who does not profit, directly or indirectly, from torts law who does not claim to abhor frivolous lawsuits. As a society, most of us publicly bemoan how these suits drive up the cost of everything from healthcare to fast food by awarding incomprehensibly large sums to supposed victims who suffer what outsiders often consider a relatively minor injury or injustice. Real cases of damage and negligence aside, public perception of trial lawyers skews toward the slimy in most instances.

According to a Forbes.com article, add anti-high fructose corn syrup activists to the list of litigants making unsubstantiated claims based in pseudo-science and precariously linked logic to gain media time as their whines wane in popularity. The piece, which differs from its subject in that it is both articulate and well-substantiated, outlines why the case should be dismissed due to the myriad of legal flaws and pseudo-scientific pseudo-evidence upon which it is based.

The true injustice? Across America, activists have dropped their picket signs and picked up DIY law books searching for an easier way to make headlines to support their dying causes. Finding the actual effort and evidence necessary to generate a true grassroots movement, they have left the street for the courtroom in the hopes their new legal jargon legitimizes their predictable propaganda.

In this case, refuse to be fooled by a carefully crafted sob story. Understand their legal claims lack merit, and their true agenda is to win in the court of public opinion. Remember that, in this case, the preponderance of evidence eviscerates their claim. The ruling is complete. Sugar is sugar whether It comes from corn, cane or beet.

To learn more, click here.

Automakers Join Crowds Amassing to Tear Down That Blend Wall

In Biofuels, Ethanol, Regulations by Cathryn

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.

Fact Checking AP Ethanol Story

In Audio, Ethanol by Cindy

leroy1Leroy 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.”

apThe 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

Harvest is on a Roll

In Audio, Ethanol, Farming, State Groups, USDA by Cindy

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.

mcgaMissouri 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.