Ethanol in Wisconsin: Facts and Fiction

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 A blog post from WBIA Executive Director, Joshua Morby.

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The ethanol industry has had a rough couple of weeks. Between a national story full of inaccuracies, coupled with the EPA’s recommendation to roll back the number of gallons of ethanol blended into domestic gasoline supplies. The question remains however, what all this pontificating from ethanol’s supporters and opponents will really mean for Wisconsin.


Here’s what we do know.

Last Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed cutting the Renewable Volume Obligation for conventional renewable fuel from the statutory level of 14.4 billion gallons to 13.01 billion gallons.

For Wisconsin producers, which rank #7 nationally in terms of production with close to 500 million gallons, this could mean trouble. Our nine plants represent more than a billion dollars of economic activity for our state’s agriculture industry alone, not to mention the money those plants spend on professional services, technology, and the payroll in their home communities.

Ethanol really does help keep gas prices down. The challenge our industry faces is telling that story and making it stick. As recently as last week there was a front page story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the recent drop in gas prices in Southeast Wisconsin but no mention of the role ethanol played.

Just this morning, the price of a gallon of ethanol was more than 80 cents less than the price of a gallon of pure gasoline. With the national retail price of gas of hovering around $3.20, the fact that ethanol is blended at a rate of 10 percent with almost every gallon of gas sold means it plays a significant role in helping control gas prices. As more ethanol is blended, prices will drop.

Consumers should be able to make their own choices at the pump, not have them dictated by big oil companies or politicians in Washington.

While the horse-trading takes place in Washington, fans of cheaper gas, more choices at the pump, energy independence and renewable fuel must get involved. While our Wisconsin delegation in Wisconsin remains pretty well split along partisan lines in their support of ethanol, Governor Walker has kept a fairly low profile compared to many of our neighboring states.

While the political upside may not be there for Governor Walker to come out as a vocal supporter of the ethanol industry and the federal requirements that protect Wisconsin’s rural communities, there is a clear economic upside.


Call Governor Walker and tell him you support the Wisconsin ethanol industry and want him to also. He can show his support by calling the president and asking him to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard. He can be reached at 608-266-1212.

You can find the point-counter point on the mentioned AP article here.

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We Love Oil

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Wisconsin ethanol plant to be featured on “Into the Outdoors”

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Didion Milling and Didion Ethanol will be featured on the television show “Into the Outdoors” which airs this weekend on local channels. The TV program aims to educate kids about the outdoors and nature. The episode featuring Didion “Big Things from Small Stuff” follows the full life of a corn kernel from the planting by area corn farmers using modern combines to the harvest phase.   

“Into the Outdoors” may be found on multiple Wisconsin channels. Madison channel WKOW TV-27 on Saturdays at 6:30am, Green Bay channel WFRV TV-5 on Saturdays at 11:00am, Wausau channel WAOW TV-9 on Sundays at 10:00am and Milwaukee channel WITI TV-6 on Sundays at 10:30am.

Check out a clip from Didion’s episode, click here.

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Subsides given for fossil fuels greatly overshadows those for renewable energy

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In a recent article from Bloomberg, the International Energy Agency reports subsidies given to fossil fuels are six times more than those for renewable energy. As a result, the enormous subsidies awarded to fossil fuels are creating a market distortion where the costs are greatly outweighing the benefits.

G-20 nations spent a $160 billion supporting the production of fossil fuels and its consumption last year alone. To continue spending on an increasingly inefficient fuel source will only further set the US back in becoming an energy independent nation.

Though aid for renewable energy projects rose 10 percent, the US faces significant hurdles building a competitive energy market if fossil fuels continue to receive large government subsidies. Whereas Europe and China are making strides in building competitive renewable energy markets, at the current pace, the IEA predicts the US renewable energy market will need aid until at 2035.

To read more about International Energy Agency’s report, click here.

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“Freedom” rolls out big in DC

“Freedom,” the compelling documentary investigating the repercussions of America’s addiction to foreign oil and a proposed solution for our energy independence will have its red carpet premiere in DC tonight with a slew of special guests.

Preceding the film’s premiere a press conference will take place at 2pm ET. The debate and Q&A hosted by Dennis McGinn, retired Vice Admiral and President of the American Council on Renewable Fuels, will include filmmakers Josh and Rebecca Tickell as well as General Wesley Clark, who ranked at a four-star general and director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Chief of Staffs.

“Freedom” covers a wide range on our country’s oil issues ranging from last year’s Deepwater Horizon explosion, Keystone XL pipeline, and the economic impact of foreign oil on American citizens. The film also highlights a path to long-term sustainable path to domestic fuel.

To learn more about “Freedom,” click here. Or, check out the trailer here.

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Award-winning filmmakers screen new documentary in Madison and Milwaukee

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Freedom, the new documentary confronting the dependence on foreign oil in the United Sates and the search for a sustainable solution will be coming to Wisconsin. Award-winning filmmakers Josh and Rebecca Tickell will be screening their documentary at two different events in Madison and Milwaukee on September 26th and 27th. A panel discussion will take place after the film where the audience will about to ask questions about the future of oil in the United States.

The Madison screening will be held at the Sundance Theater at 7pm.

The Milwaukee screening will be held at the UWM Union Theater at 7pm.

To view a trailer, click here.

For more information on Freedom, click here.

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Ag. Secretary Tom Vilsack at Wisconsin State Fair on biofuels

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New TV Ad on Ethanol’s Impact on Gas Prices

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Check out this new television ad from the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association which shows that without ethanol, gasoline prices would be about 90 cents more per gallon.

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An open letter to Congressman Sensenbrenner

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Dear Congressman Sensenbrenner:

As Wisconsin ethanol producers, we represent an industry that has created hundreds of jobs and generated more than a billion dollars in economic activity in the state.

Continued growth for homegrown, domestic energy supplies relies on market access for the fuel we produce.  For producers, E15 means market access.  For consumers, E15 means the option to choose a more affordable and clean-burning fuel.  We respectfully submit that your opinion editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week overlooked key facts about E15.

Small engine owners and motorists are not required to use E15 as a result of the EPA’s approval of this new fuel.  To the contrary, we’ve advocated for – and the EPA is allowing – the continued availability of E10 blends (which are approved for use in all small engines) and fuel containing no ethanol whatsoever.  What’s more, the EPA has gone out of its way to require a label at gas stations offering E15, which makes it clear the fuel is not approved for small and non-road engines.  Therefore, it is dangerous to rely on anecdotal spook stories about what E15 might do to engines.  The EPA has already prohibited E15 use in small engines, and the scientific data the organization relied on to approve E15 for motor vehicles is sound.

Opening more fuel markets to a greater percentage of this homegrown fuel will help power future generations of rural success.  We want to give the public a chance to decide whether they want to help keep fuel proceeds at home instead of sending them overseas.

We believe consumers deserve to have choices at the pump.  Furthermore, Congressman Sensenbrenner, our industry has worked in good faith, unlike the oil industry, to reform the current government support that the industry receives by sacrificing over 1 billion dollars toward deficit reduction.  In this time of fiscal belt-tightening in Washington D.C., we are one of the few industries working with lawmakers on a sensible reform.  Please consider the advantages ethanol provides the nation and the state you represent, and the value of supporting consumer fuel choice at the pump.


Joshua Morby
Executive Director
Wisconsin Bio Industry Alliance

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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.

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