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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Ag. Secretary Tom Vilsack at Wisconsin State Fair on biofuels

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WBIA staffer Cara McCarthy on ethanol

Cara McCarthy on ethanol

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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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Find Alternative Fuel On the Go

Finding fuel for your alternative fuel vehicle while on the go just got much simpler.  The U.S. Department of Energy has created a new mobile app with easy-to-use Google technology that allows users to find the five closest locations for filling up with alternative fuels such as biodiesel, electricity, E85 (etha­nol), hydrogen, natural gas and propane.  The app provides users with driving directions, business hours and contact information.

Until more alternative fuel stations are built, allowing these important industries to flourish, this app will serve as a great resource for consumers who are dedicated to using these fuels to ensure our nation’s energy security and economic growth.

Click here for more information and to download the app.

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Biofuels advancement taking place right here

Wisconsin continues to lead the way in bio industry advancement.

A University of Wisconsin-Madison research group at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center developed a strain of bacteria which could lead to more cost-effective cellulosic biofuels. The team’s findings were published online by the Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology on June 11.

The breakthrough has made it possible to perform genetic analysis on the bacteria, which has long been known to convert biomass to sugars. The team developed a way to mutate any gene with the bacteria, which should bring greater success to the difficult process of breaking down plant cell walls to extract sugar molecules for producing biofuels.

Also advancing the bio industry is Milwaukee-based Lallemand Ethanol Technology, which just introduced Thermosacc® GOLD, a new fresh-cake yeast better able to withstand fermentation. Thermosacc GOLD was designed to use sugars more efficiently and increase yield.

The WBIA is proud to see Wisconsin leading the way in the biofuels industry, and we hope this is just the beginning of Wisconsin’s contribution to the global movement toward bio power.

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WI Wins Border Battle

Wisconsin and Minnesota Clean Air Choice teams battled it out this week to see who could pump more E85 in two hours at two locations on the WI and MN border. With Alice in Dairyland’s help pumping E85, Wisconsin won the battle! In total, over 1,000 gallons of E85 were pumped, preventing 4 tons of emissions from entering the air. This friendly competition made a significant impact on ensuring the we all have clean air to breathe – way to go everyone!

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Ethanol Advertising Launch Event on Monday

Growth Energy, with the assistance of the WBIA, is launching a national advertising campaign that begins on Monday, April 12.   We hope you can join us Madison at a debut event for the commercials and to discuss the importance of biofuels to Wisconsin and the country.

Monday, April 12
11:00am
Wisconsin State Capitol
Room 400SE

RSVP to Jason Rae at rae@nationconsulting.com if you can attend! Hope to see you there!

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Didion Works to Increase Energy Efficiency

WBIA Member Didion Ethanol has begun work to increase the plant’s energy efficiency using $5.5 million from a recent DOE grant.  The project, which will cost a total of $11 million, will decrease energy use while allowing the plant to produce more ethanol.  We are proud to see one of our members taking such a big step towards energy efficiency and the improvement of the ethanol industry.  The project will also created an estimated 10 permanent positions, plus 75 temporary construction jobs.

Read more about the project in this article in Ethanol Producer Magazine.

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Domestic Biofuels Bill Protects Small Engine Manufacturers and Users

Assembly Bill 408, the Domestic Biofuels Bill, is a step toward making Wisconsin a leader in the renewable fuels industry.  The bill will protect and create jobs and help Wisconsin become a clean, more environmentally friendly state.

Some small engine manufacturers, however, have expressed concerns about the bill.  As a strong supporter of small engine manufacturers and users, the WBIA has worked to highlight how the proposed bill will actually protect jobs and benefit the small engine industry.

Here are a few ways in which the bill will protect small engine manufacturers:

1.  The bill guarantees the availability of ethanol-free gasoline.

2.  The bill ensures small engine users will be able to buy gasoline with ethanol blends recommended by the manufacturer.

3.  The bill protects small engine owners, should ethanol become to expensive or scarce.

For more details, including text from the bill, download our fact sheet below.

Small Engine fact sheet [PDF]

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