The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher
Last week, seventy leaders attended a Renewable Fuels conference at the Union League Club in Chicago with experts on air and ground pollution, research and development, civil and environmental engineering, consultants of environmental law, energy and finance, along with renewable fuel industry leaders.
Good news for the growth of the ethanol industry came from Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Industry, the entity formed to speak up for ethanol. He gave the first pre-showing of their ad-campaign addressing misinformation about the Ethanol industry launched on cable-TV networks this Monday (April 12) on CNN, FOX, MSNBC, and HLN (headline news).
Aimed at educating the public about "America's Fuel," (ethanol), two messages run back to back in short spots with a bright green background that present ethanol as sensible, independent, clean, economic, renewable and peace-promoting.
The timing of the ads coincides with the renewal of the energy policy debate in Washington D.C..
(See ads at http://www.youtube.com/user/growthenergy)
Buis said: "If you don't go out and tell all the great things we are doing, from reducing greenhouse gases, to protecting the environment, to making our nation more secure and less dependent on foreign oil, you are just assuming people know it. And we need to get out in front in this day and age of instant communications. I think it's vitally important because otherwise, you let your critiques define you. And your critiques are never going to tell the true story."
The story in Growth Energy's opening video was moving and reminds viewers that farmers are hard working Americans with wholesome values who serve their country and their communities well, and are now working to make the U.S. independent of foreign oil, and keep American soldiers at home rather than at war, guarding oil fields, and at the same time, improving our environment.
The video and ads are on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and the Growth Energy website at: http://www.growthenergy.org/news-media-center/broadcast-media/video-introduction-to-growth-energy/
As farmers get a better price for their corn and invest in ethanol, they continue to be profitable, so they can continue to preserve their wholesome way of community life, while continuing to feed the world, and doing it without government paid set-aside programs.
Leaders discussed the "risky" business in the Renewable Fuel industry in the present climate. To be successful, it's about good timing. Industry risks include:
RULES & REGULATIONS
The combination of the ever-changing EPA rules and regulations are complex. For instance, the new EPA GREENHOUSE GAS REPORTING RULE which was explained by Elizabeth Steinhour of Weaver Boos Consultants in Chicago.
There are permits that are needed and many compliance issues. You may think you have your permit and everything is okay with the EPA only to find out the Attorney General's office has a problem with it, and shuts you down.
Attorney Ms. Patricia Sharkey, practicing in environmental law with McGuireWoods, LLP, said she has seen it result in the fighting between the two agencies.
She' also seen permits that were grandfathered in, come up for question at renewal due to organizations such as the SierraClub who are working to eliminate the use of coal, etc.
Although you may have your permit, you may be asked if you considered natural gas or wind energy, she said.
The list of compliance challenges, goes on and on.
Waste, water, and water discharge and water resources were discussed by David Rieser of McGuireWoods LLP, and Andrew Perdue of Weaver Boos Consultants explained "some tricky issues" under existing environmental programs including "Waste vs. Fuel, air permitting, water issues, timing, application process, management plans, community participants, fees, and the hard job of funding and impact of future plans.
Those in the renewable fuel industry considering building new must be aware of the combination of new legislations (VEETC), the new tariff on Brazil, and the expired tax credits, and blending fees that are still on hold in an uncertain political climate.
Brian Crowe, Executive Office of Energy Independence and Iowa Power Fund said Iowa's twenty bio-diesel plants are all standing idle at present. Crowe discussed state and federal incentive programs.
Agnes Mrozowski, Assistant Deputy Director, Bureau Energy spoke for the Illinois Dept. of Commerce & Economic Opportunity on the status of Biofuels Programs in Illinois. She was questioned of Governor Quinn's support which she felt would be positive, but Illinois political outlook is in question during this election campaigning year.
Panelist, Ben Rose of Geneva Energy LLC, said it would be hard to start or operate a bio-diesel plant without the government tax credits being renewed which are still on the table in Washington D.C..
The climtate has been tarnished, due to people who are already using grain in their industry and who want to be able to purchase cheap grain, such as the Grocery Manufacturers Assoc. (GMA).
"They are campaigning hard to disclaim the ethanol industry in order to keep cheap corn, without regard to the negative effects it has on the rural communities, and grain producers across the U.S.," said Ray Defenbaugh, President of Illinois Renewable Fuels and President and CEO of Big River Resources, LLC.
A recent letter G.M.A. sent to the Obama Administration, from G.M.A. (on the G.M.A. website) says:
"Although there are many factors contributing to commodity and food inflation- including rising energy prices, weather, commodity speculation, global demand, export restrictions and the value of the dollar-significant factors are food-to-fuel mandates, subsidies and protections."
BIO-FUEL INDUSTRY TODAY
In the U.S., out of 189 ethanol plants as of January 1, 2010, all but just a few were in production. Nearby Canton, Illinois is one of those few, closed due to EPA problems. Several closings have occurred earlier due to failure to capitalize enough dollars to make it through tough times and volatility in grain prices.
At present, the U.S. leads the way in ethanol production with 10.75 billion gallons in 2009, but Brazil's production is fast growing-in second place, with 4.23 billion gallons in 2009, but a large increase has been forcast for in their 2010 projections of 6.87 billion gallons due to their government's expansion.
Brazil is the largest exporter of ethanol and has the world's largest fleet of ethanol-powered cars. Seven out of every 10 new cars purchased in Brazail are a "flex fuel" vehicle that can run on gasoline, ethanol or any combination of the two.