Producers rail against changes to ethanol requirements

Many are frustrated Walker hasn’t weighed in on issue

By Rick Barrett of the Journal Sentinel
Jan. 15, 2014

Follow @JournalSentinel on Twitter


Wisconsin biofuel producers say they’re disappointed Gov. Scott Walker hasn’t joined a group of Midwestern governors urging the federal government to support ethanol use and not cut the fuel additive requirement in gasoline.

Long considered a boon to the Midwest economy, ethanol made from corn is blended in most of the gasoline sold in the U.S. today.

But for the first time since 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed cutting by 3 billion gallons, or almost 18%, the amount of ethanol in the U.S. fuel supply this year.

The reduction could have a huge adverse effect on corn growers and ethanol plants, said Robert Sather, co-founder of Ace Ethanol in Stanley and president of the Wisconsin Bio Industry Alliance.

“We have nine ethanol plants in the state. They will all be in jeopardy if the EPA change comes to fruition,” Sather said.

The proposal has raised the ire of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, and governors from Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, who want the EPA to leave the biofuel requirements intact.

If the EPA’s proposed rule takes effect, the negative impact would be felt most in rural America, the governors said in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The governors said more than 400,000 Americans depend on renewable fuels for jobs in their states, directly or indirectly. They cited an Iowa State University study that estimated a reduction in the Renewable Fuels Standard could cause corn prices to drop below the point where farmers would make a profit on the commodity.

Corn is Wisconsin’s biggest crop, and farmers make planting decisions based in part on the demand for ethanol. So Wisconsin ethanol producers say they’re frustrated by Walker’s decision not join the other governors in urging the EPA to reject any reduction in the Renewable Fuels Standard.

Walker says he’s keeping a campaign pledge to not take a position in the debate that has pitted ethanol producers against Wisconsin’s small-engine industry, which opposes increased use of the fuel additive.

Livestock farmers also aren’t pleased with ethanol because it drives up the price of corn and makes their feed more expensive.

“From our standpoint, it’s a careful balance. We’ve got corn producers, but we also have (corn) users, particularly in the dairy industry,” Walker said in an interview.

The EPA was supposed to make its decision on the 2014 ethanol requirements last November but missed the deadline and has kept its public comment period open until Jan. 28.

“If there ever was a time the industry wanted the governor to get involved and weigh in, now is that time,” said Josh Morby, executive director of the Wisconsin Bio Industry Alliance.

(Follow Joshua on LinkedInTwitter, and make sure to follow the WBIA.)


In a speech to EPA officials in November, Iowa’s Branstad said by lowering the nation’s ethanol blending mandate, President Barack Obama’s administration would be turning its back on Iowa voters.

Iowa is the nation’s largest ethanol producer with 42 refineries.

“This is going to drive us into what could be another farm crisis. It makes no sense,” Branstad said.

Ethanol critics say the recent boom in domestic oil production has made the biofuel additive less important as an alternative to foreign oil.

Also, as vehicles become more fuel efficient, Americans are using less gasoline than they did seven years ago when the government set the Renewable Fuels Standard.

Almost all gasoline sold in the U.S. contains 10% ethanol.

“We are now at the E-10 blend wall,” the agency said, adding that if gasoline use continues to decline with more fuel-efficient vehicles, then growth in ethanol use would have to come from higher blends ranging from 15% to 85%.

That would be unpopular with the automotive industry and small-engine makers, who contend the higher blends could result in problems such as premature engine wear, fuel line issues and lower fuel mileage.

It’s time to scale back the Renewable Fuels Standard to better reflect the current situation, the American Petroleum Institute says.

“The Renewable Fuels Standard was a well-intentioned law that was written in 2007, when the assumptions of what 2014 would look like were vastly different,” said Patrick Kelly, API’s senior fuels policy adviser.

“Now the EPA has taken steps in the right direction to address this,” Kelly said.


Permalink + Share This

New App on Air Quality

Categories: Education

Our friends at the American Lung Association have just introduced a new smartphone application about air quality. The app provides color-coded EPA air quality forecasts, location-based air quality alerts and ways for you to get informed, speak up to lawmakers or donate to help support their Fight for Air. Click here to find out more about their new app.

Permalink + Share This

Clean Snowmobile Challenge

At the last WBIA meeting in May, students from UW-Platteville’s Clean Snowmobile Challenge came and spoke about their experience this past winter competing in the competition. Afterward, they presented WBIA Executive Director Josh Morby with a plaque recognizing the WBIA’s sponsorship of the team.

Permalink + Share This

Biofuels Workshop in Watertown

The Wisconsin Small-Scale Biofuels Producer Program, with the Office of Energy Independence, is holding a small-scale gas and liquid biofuels workshop and expo Friday, June 25. The workshop will run from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Watertown Senior Center in the morning and Prairie Dock in the afternoon.

It will include presentations and “hands on” sessions featuring biofuels experts, business and government leaders, educators and equipment manufacturers from Wisconsin. There will also be several small-scale systems demonstrated.

The workshop fee is $40. WSSBPP members receive a discounted rate of $25.

Click here to download a flyer with more information about the event. You may also click here to download the program.

Permalink + Share This

Biodiesel Ad Released from NBB

The National Biodiesel Board recently released this great, short ad about biodiesel. It really hits the message on the head that biodiesel is another alternative fuel that can help move our country forward. Check out the video and be sure to share it with your friends.

Permalink + Share This

Learn About the Latest Energy-Efficient Vehicles at the Green Vehicles Workshop & Fair

Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) will be holding their seventh annual Green Vehicles Workshop & Fair, “Driving Toward 2020″ this Friday, April 23 at their Downtown Campus. In this popular, interactive workshop, expert presenters discuss and display the latest designs of energy-efficient and diminished-emission vehicles for the present and near future.

MATC will also be holding a free, first-ever green vehicles fair on Saturday, April 23 at their Oak Creek Campus. The event will feature brief informational sessions and a tire pressure check conducted by Milwaukee Hybrid Group members called Pump Your Ride To $avings.

For more information, please click here to download the program for the Green Vehicles Workshop & Fair, or here to download a flyer for both events.

The discounted $15 early-bird registration fee has been extended through Thursday, April 22 if you confirm your registration with event founder George Stone or Francis Vogel, Executive Director of Wisconsin Clean Cities – Southeast Area. George may be reached at stoneg@matc.edu or at (414) 297-7430. Francis may be reached at francis.vogel@we-energies.com or (414) 221-4958.

Payment at the door on Friday will be $25. A special group rate of $10 applies to Milwaukee Hybrid Group members whom identify themselves as such at the door on Friday. The registration fee covers continental breakfast, a box luncheon and all materials. Students at any level may attend free of charge.

Event sponsors include: Milwaukee Area Technical College, We Energies, Milwaukee Hybrid Group, American Lung Association of Wisconsin, Automobile Dealers of Mega Milwaukee and Wisconsin Clean Cities – Southeast Area.

Permalink + Share This

No Wars Have Ever Been Fought Over Ethanol

Growth Energy launched their $2.5 million television ad campaign today, promoting ethanol’s many benefits as an alternative to fossil fuels.  The spots will air on four cable networks over the next six months: Fox, MSNBC, CNN and HLN. They began airing today at 6 a.m on all four networks.  Each spot focuses on a different benefit of ethanol and promotes it as independent, clean, renewable, peaceful, sensible and economic.

Here is one example, called “America’s Peace Fuel”

To see all of the ads on Growth Energy’s Web site, click here.

Permalink + Share This

Upcoming Event on Tax Incentives for Renewable Energy Projects

Interested in learning more financial options for renewable energy projects? Check out this event sponsored by Whyte Hirschboeck and Dudek.

Breakfast Seminar – Tax Incentives and Financing Tools for Renewable Energy Projects

Description:  Attorneys Lynda Templen and Joe Pickart will discuss the many financing tools and incentives available for investing in renewable energy business projects including tax incentives, state and federal grant and loan programs, tax-exempt bond financing and angel and venture capital financing opportunities.

When: Thursday, April 22, 2010
7:30 AM – 9:00 AM

Where: Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C.
555 East Wells Street, Suite 1900
Milwaukee, WI 53202

R.S.V.P. by Thursday, April 15, 2010

Click here for more details.

Permalink + Share This

WI Small Scale Gas & Liquid Biofuels Workshop & Expo

The Wisconsin Small-Scale Biofuels Producers Program (WSSBPP) from Fox Valley Technical College is presenting a new workshop – the Small Scale Gas & Liquid Biofuels Workshop & Expo – that will give participants an opportunity to visit with local biofuels equipment manufacturers, learn about starting a small-scale biofuels operation and hear about new funding opportunities.

The workshop will include a morning “lecture” session and and afternoon “hands-on” session. Speakers will include biofuels experts, business leaders, state officials and educators from Wisconsin.

The program will be held on Saturday, April 10, 2010 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Fox Valley Tech College’s Agriculture Center in Appleton.

Registration is required.
Workshop Fee: $25.00*
Registration deadline: 4/5/2010
* WSSBPP members receive a $25.00 discount (cost is free)

Permalink + Share This

UW-Platteville Students to Compete with Ethanol Powered Snowmobile

Categories: Bio Fuels,Education

Every year the WBIA sponsors a team of students from UW-Platteville to participate in an engineering-design competition called the Clean Snowmobile Challenge.  Their task is to redesign an existing snowmobile to reduce emissions and noise.  An important part of this redesign is converting the snowmobile to run on ethanol blends.  Their modified snowmobile competes in a variety of competitions including emissions, noise, fuel economy/endurance, acceleration, handling, static display, cold start and design.

Their team captain, Ryan Kubat, recently shared with us this update:

We have been extremely busy working on the sled and finishing up the design paper and our suggested manufactured retail price (MSRP). I have attached the design paper for this year if you would like to read through it or pass it along to anyone else on the board. Our final MSRP cost for our snowmobile came to $14,823.24 this year!

We have just over one week before we head up to our competition and are just wrapping up some fine tuning and even looking at possibilities for next year already! The whole team has been investing a great deal of time over the past weeks to help get our paper finalized and to get the sled ready to go. We are all excited and looking forward to competition. The following email is where the schedule of events can be seen at:


To download their design sheet, please click here.

Permalink + Share This
Older Posts »