Weekly Resource for February 10, 2012
Anti-Ethanol Bill Is Like an Old Movie Seen Too Many Times Before
We have seen this movie before. Repeatedly. Once again, a collection of short-sighted special interest groups is attempting to derail our nation's efforts to reduce its dependency on foreign oil and make greater use of clean and domestically produced transportation fuels. A House Committee today marked up and sent to the House floor a bill that would require the EPA to commission still another study on the effects of E15 on engines.
Never mind that the agency, with the assistance the Energy Department, conducted years of tests to carefully determine that a 15-percent blend of ethanol is perfectly acceptable for model 2001 vehicles and newer. The bill is simply an attempt to undermine the EPA's regulatory environment and stem the research that will enable wider use of ethanol in helping meet our national energy security. The 25x'25 Alliance urges Congress to not only reject this piece of "political theater," but to adopt policies that expand the use of and demand for renewable fuels, including increased production of flex-fuel vehicles and expanded installation of blender pumps that allow motorists to choose the amount of ethanol to add to their fuel. Read more...

News of Note

Senate Ag Committee to Take Up Farm Bill Energy Title Programs Next Week

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, recently
announced the hearing schedule for the 2012 Farm Bill reauthorization, with farm energy and rural development the topics for the first hearing Wednesday, Feb. 15.

Ned Stowe, a policy associate with the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, says the hearing may give renewable energy advocates an idea if federal programs critical to the development of sustainable bioenergy and the bioeconomy will be renewed in the next Farm Bill. The authorization for current programs will expire at the end of this year.

Stowe says the Agriculture Committee is under pressure to reduce overall spending for nutrition and agriculture programs in the next Farm Bill. In November, the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture committees recommended cuts of $23 billion.

The energy title in the current Farm Bill, enacted in 2008, authorized
a dozen programs, and EESI estimates that title also authorized a total of $1.037 billion mandatory funding and $1.113 billion discretionary funding for fiscal years 2008 through 2012, all to advance the development of bioenergy and other types of renewable energy and energy efficiency across rural America. "Programs such as the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, Biorefinery Assistance Program, and Rural Energy for America Program offer significant returns on the public investment in terms of job creation, rural economic development, and energy security," Stowe says. "However, because these programs do not receive baseline funding, they may be especially vulnerable to cuts in the next authorization bill."

Conservation programs, which are considered critical to renewable energy interests because of their capacity to provide acreage for non-food bioenergy crops, will be the topic of a committee hearing set for Feb. 29.

Industry Leaders Slam Bill Seeking More Study of E15
A bill requiring EPA to commission a National Academy of Sciences study of the effects of blending 15 percent ethanol in gasoline was sent to the House floor this week by the Science, Space and Technology Committee. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) said his measure was necessary because of ongoing concerns that E15 will damage the engines of vehicles. He said EPA's approval of E15 blends last year was more about the influence of the ethanol industry than science.

However, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), the panel's ranking Democrat, said the measure offered only "political theater," claiming the bill had no chance of passage in the Senate and would be vetoed by the White House.

The Renewable Fuels Association calls the bill a stalling tactic. "With many members of Congress complaining about the federal government impeding the ability of small businesses to create jobs, this bill would inject parochial politics into the scientifically established process of approving new fuels," said RFA President Bob Dinneen. "In approving E15, the [DOE] tested vehicles over millions of driving miles   the equivalent of some 4,700 round trips from Washington to Milwaukee. To suggest more testing is needed is nothing more than a stall tactic that has but one outcome – our continued addiction to oil."

Dinneen called Sensenbrenner's bill "a perfect example of Congress trying to address a problem that doesn't exist." He said that while it is understandable for concerns to arise any time a new fuel is introduced, the concerns raised by the legislation "are largely superficial and do not require the intervention of Congress to resolve. America's ethanol industry has been working with auto companies and fuel suppliers for over a year to address any concerns and misconceptions that persist."

Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, an ethanol manufacturers trade group, says the bill "is a waste of time and a waste of taxpayer dollars. No fuel blend has been tested as thoroughly as E15. No fuel blend has undergone the level of scrutiny E15 has – and passed the tests like E15 did. They've been looking at E15 for more than three years. Now Rep. Sensenbrenner wants to move the goal posts again – a move that would only add more red tape and regulation."

Buis said the bill "would do nothing to help the American consumer, but only continues our reliance on the OPEC monopoly."

Boost in RFS Requirement Sought by Biodiesel Industry
Biodiesel industry leaders said at their annual meeting that a boost to the volumetric biodiesel requirement under the federal Renewable Fuels Standard will be their top priority this year.

"We have to be absolutely committed to the success and protection of the RFS as our top priority," said National Biodiesel Board (NBB) CEO Joe Jobe in remarks to the general session of the industry's annual meeting in Orlando this week. "2011 demonstrated that the RFS can work at doing what Congress intended, which is to draw renewable fuels into the market."

The industry rebounded significantly to produce more than 1.1 billion gallons in 2011, far exceeding the RFS requirement of 800,000 gallons. Now, EPA is recommending that the RFS biodiesel requirement for 2012 be raised from the current 1 billion gallons to 1.28 billion gallons. However, the Office of Management and Budget has postponed final approval of the higher requirement until later this month.

The industry's success last year occurred after Congress retroactively reinstated a $1-per-gallon blenders' tax credit that enabled the industry to rebound from a 380-billion-gallon year in 2010 when the lack of the credit led to multiple bankruptcies and widespread job losses.

It is not lost on industry leaders that the tax credit touted as saving the industry last year expired at the end of 2011. The industry now seeks a producers' credit, as opposed to a blenders' credit, and hopes it will be included in a package of tax benefit extenders that Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, proposes to include in a measure continuing Bush-era payroll tax deductions set to expire at the end of this month.

NBB President Gary Haer told conference delegates this week that the production tax incentive must be enacted since biodiesel is still the only commercially available advanced biofuel. "Our industry does need to mature a little bit more and the tax incentive helps us do that," he said.

North Dakota Groups Looking to Start Advanced Biofuel Industry with Beets

A two-year grant from the North Dakota Renewable Energy Council could launch an advanced biofuels industry from beets. The project receiving the grant would set up a USDA Risk Management Agency multi-peril crop insurance program for energy beets, and engineer and evaluate new front-end energy beet processing methods.

The project would also expand regional energy beet research trials, scale up whole-energy beet and juice storage technology to enable year-round processing, and inform producers, community developers, and the biofuel industry of the emerging opportunity.

The project is a public-private partnership with the Green Vision Group of Fargo and Heartland Renewable Energy of Muscatine Iowa, with research by North Dakota State University. With a goal of developing an energy beet biofuels industry in North Dakota, the $1 million phase II project includes $500,000 in funds from the state Renewable Energy Council, with approval from the North Dakota Industrial Commission, plus cash-match funds from industry partners Betaseed and Syngenta, and other in-kind contributions. The NDSU Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and the Carrington Research Extension Center will continue to provide research for the project. For more information, click

HERE.

Headlines of Note for the Week Ending February 10, 2012
News of interest to our 25x'25 Partners and advocates for a clean energy future:

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

 


Join the University of Tennessee's Center for Renewable Carbon for their 2nd International Frontiers in Biorefining Conference on October 30 - November 2, 2012 in St. Simons Island, GA. The conference will include the latest developments and advances on transformation of renewable carbon building blocks to chemicals and materials. More information - including breakout speaker requests, registration and poster presentations - will be sent out via e-mail as additional information becomes available. Please visit http://www.fib2012.org/ for more conference details.

Other events of interest to 25x'25 partners and other renewable energy stakeholders can be found by clicking here
.


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