WBIA BLOG

The WBIA goes to Washington

Every year, the Wisconsin Bio Industry Alliance joins national ethanol advocacy group, the Renewable Fuel Association, for their annual Washington, D.C. lobbying day. This year, the WBIA’s Executive Director Joshua Morby and President Robert Sather had meetings with nearly every one of the offices of Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation.

“This is not really about left or right,” says Josh Morby, “Wisconsin’s ethanol industry is vital to the economic growth of our rural communities. We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars going into the pockets and cash registers of Wisconsinites. Plus, ethanol is cleaner to burn than gasoline and helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We have to make sure we fight for this industry here in Wisconsin.”

The primary goal of the WBIA’s visit to DC last week was to make sure our federal lawmakers are aware of the biggest threat to ethanol – proposed changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard. The RFS is a 2007 law that was designed to encourage America to shift away from fossil fuels. Passed with bipartisan support, the RFS has been considered the single most effective piece of legislation in reducing America’s greenhouse gas pollution.

A key part of the RFS is the Renewable Volume Obligation, which by law mandates that a certain percentage of every gallon of gasoline sold in America contain ethanol. The goal was not to endorse ethanol but to push our transportation fuels infrastructure to lean forwards and reduce our dependence on foreign petroleum. Over the past year, the RVO has been attacked by the oil industry, culminating in a decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to potentially remove or lower the volume obligation. This would be a mistake. We can’t let the oil industry’s inconvenience stifle research into new fuels.

“We understand this is polarizing. We understand that it’s a complex issue.” Said WBIA President Robert Sather, “There’s been a lot of study that has gone into this, and the evidence does not back up the claims of our opponents. The RFS and the RVO are not going to make it so the oil industry is no longer profitable. The concept of a ‘blend wall,’ a point where they run out of ethanol to mix into the gasoline supply is absurd. It’s not real.”

Armed only with handouts of ethanol’s economic impact in Wisconsin, the WBIA met with seven of our ten Congressional offices to share a state of the market update with legislators.

“Part of the WBIA’s mission is education, and we take that seriously. So when we meet with our elected officials we’re there mostly as educators. If they know about the industry and our value to the state they can form their own thoughts. “Says Josh Morby, “And because of that, for nearly ten years our relationships in Madison, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. have only grown.”

 

For more information on the proposed changes to the RFS click here for the EPA’s summary.

To learn more about the “blend wall,” take a look at this breakdown from the RFA.

If you want to see what the RFS is all about, check out this summary from Growth Energy.

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US Automakers Approve Use of E15 in New Vehicles

The two major US automakers made a great announcement for the US ethanol industry today. Check out what The Hill reported:

Ford and General Motors Inc. have approved use of a higher concentration of ethanol fuel in new vehicles — a significant victory for the biofuels industry.

New GM and Ford vehicles will accept a fuel blend that’s 15 percent ethanol, as opposed to the standard 10 percent blend. For GM, that will begin with 2012 models, while Ford will accommodate the fuel in 2013 models, according to Oil Price Information Service, which first reported the news.

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Looking for an E85 station?

Categories: ethanol

Did you know there are currently 2837 E85 stations in the United States located in 1945 cities? If you’re not sure where your nearest station is, the US Department of Energy has a website that can locate it for you.

Click here to check it out.

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WBIA staffer Cara McCarthy on ethanol

Cara McCarthy on ethanol

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Coburn pushes Senate vote on anti-ethanol measure

Claiming to be an effort to reign in federal subsidies, Senator Coburn (R-OK) and his fellow anti-ethanol legislators snuck in an amendment to end investment in America’s ethanol industry. A closer look at the motives of Sen. Coburn and his Senate allies reveal they are covered in oil.

Over the last years, Sen. Coburn and his colleagues have received more $4 million in political contributions from the oil and gas industry. Although large contributions from oil companies are no secret, this amendment does show that there is more behind the amendment than simply cutting federal subsidies. As Matt Hartwig from the Renewable Fuels Associates suggests:

“This effort has more to do with oil-patch politics than it does national energy security and responsible fiscal policy.  If this were a true effort to reign in federal energy subsidies, than the tens of billions of dollars given to mature energy industries like petroleum would be included in this amendment.”

This amendment is a ploy to keep Americans at the mercy of foreign oil and rising prices while a select few reap the political and monetary benefits.  Killing ethanol investment would also mean snuffing innovation and stifling growth that can bring prosperity to many Americans.

To read more about Sen. Coburn’s amendment, click here.

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Dueling Fuels: Minnesota and Wisconsin to Face Off in Friendly E85 Rivalry

Two gas stations on opposite sides of the St. Croix River will compete to sell the most E85 fuel on June 2. The Freedom Valu Center in Maplewood, Minnesota and River Hills BP in Somerset, Wisconsin will sell their E85 fuel at a $.85 cent discount between 4-6 p.m. Thursday as a way to promote the use of cleaner fuels.

The ethanol-based fuel can save drivers money as well as improve the quality of air we breathe. The beginning of summer is also the kickoff for ozone season, the main ingredient of smog.  Using the ethanol based fuel E85 can combat the increase of smog during summer months and decrease the risk of adverse health effects including asthma.

The promotions are supported by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, Wisconsin Corn Growers Association, Bob & Steve’s BP Amoco Shops, Erickson Oil, American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest and MN & WI Clean Air Choice Teams.

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New List of Wisconsin E85 Stations Available

Categories: Bio Fuels,ethanol

An updated list of gas stations in Wisconsin that offer E85 is now available, using data compiled by the Wisconsin Office of Energy Independence.

There are currently 125 stations across the state that offer the fuel, with another six opening in the near future.

To download the list, and find a station near you, please click here.

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Letter to Secretary Vilsack on USDA Corn Demand Reporting

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

As the price of corn rises due to a number of environmental and societal factors, opponents of domestically produced biofuels have once again begun to engage in the unfounded “food vs. fuel” attacks that have harmed the industry over the past several years.

Indirectly contributing to the problem is the fact that the US Department of Agriculture provides the monthly “corn demand for ethanol” without specifying that some of that corn is used for ethanol production, while more than one-third is resold as dried distillers grains. In doing so, the USDA is not accurately presenting the amount of corn that is converted directly into ethanol, but rather inflating the amount by including co-products in the overall demand figures.

If the ethanol industry it to continue to fight “food vs. fuel” claims, it is imperative that we articulate the entirety of the ethanol production process, which includes not just the production of fuel, but high-quality animal feed and other co-products as well. By altering its reporting methods, the USDA would be able to provide a more accurate portrayal of corn demand for ethanol and eliminate one false route of attack for those who are anti-ethanol.

In Wisconsin, our plants combined produce more than 500 million gallons of ethanol per year, contributing billions of dollars to our state economy and employing thousands of people across the state. Throughout your time as Governor of Iowa and as Agriculture Secretary, you have been an outspoken advocate of ethanol and the biofuel industry in general, and we thank you for your continued support.

We hope that you will consider revising USDA reporting methods and helping us counter the false claims that ethanol forces us to sacrifice food for fuel, and we look forward to working with you in the coming years to continue growing our industry across the country.

Sincerely,

Western Wisconsin Energy
Didion Ethanol
Ace Ethanol
Badger State Ethanol
Marquis Energy

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Call for unity in the ethanol industry

At the Renewable Fuels Association’s National Ethanol Conference this week, ethanol leaders from around the country meet to discuss the future of the industry.

Bob Dinneen, RFA CEO, will give the State of the Industry Address. Dinneen’s column this month, ‘Speaking with One Voice,’ calls for unity and focus.

“It is critically important that, as Congress and the country debate and decide energy policy, the ethanol industry will be speaking with one voice. That’s why the recent announcement that companies developing the next generation of advanced ethanol technologies are working together with the ethanol industry’s trade organization, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), through the formation of the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) is so significant.”

Read more of Dinneen’s column: Speaking with One Voice: RFA chief calls for biofuels unity

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Ethanol produces more energy than it uses

A USDA report has good news about ethanol’s net energy gain: it has increased substantially – 10 percent — in the last 20 years. Higher yields mean less corn is needed to produce ethanol. Corn yields have increased 39 percent. What this means for ethanol is that it now produces more energy than is used to make it.

The report, “2008 Energy Balance for the Corn-Ethanol industry,” states “A dry grind ethanol plant that produces and sells dry distiller’s grains and uses conventional fossil fuel power for thermal energy and electricity produces nearly two times more energy in the form of ethanol delivered to customers than it uses for corn, processing, and transportation. The ratio is about 2.3 BTU of ethanol for 1 BTU of energy in inputs, when a more generous means of removing byproduct energy is employed. ”

The USDA also has good news for dry mills using up to 50 percent biomass power: “The energy output for these plants is near 2.8 times energy inputs, even using the conservative byproduct allowance.”

The report concludes that ethanol has made a substantial net energy gain, and “there are still prospects for improvement.”

Read more at the USDA Blog: USDA Report Shows Improving Corn-Ethanol Energy Efficiency

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