Ethanol Investors Try to Derail California’s Carbon-Emissions Proposal

Posted on March 27, 2009. Filed under: Advanced Biofuel, Field-to-Pump | Tags: , , , , |

Ethanol investors try to derail California’s carbon-emissions proposal

Schwarzenegger, ethanol, carbon emissions, California
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sits next to an ethanol-powered vehicle after signing an order establishing the world’s first low-carbon standard for transportation fuels in California in January.
A group of ethanol investors met with Gov. Schwarzenegger in an effort to derail the proposal, which they say would cripple the nation’s biofuels industry.
By Margot Roosevelt
March 27, 2009
Ethanol investors met with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this week in an effort to derail California’s far-reaching proposal to slash carbon emissions from transportation fuels.

The meeting, the latest volley in a national campaign against the regulation, was attended by Silicon Valley mogul Vinod Khosla and former Secretary of State Bill Jones, chairman of the board of Sacramento-based Pacific Ethanol Inc. One participant, New Fuels Alliance lobbyist Brooke Coleman, said the proposal is based on “completely speculative” scientific models and would cripple the nation’s biofuels industry.

Environmentalists are alarmed by the mounting attack on the state Air Resources Board, which will hold a hearing on the rule in Sacramento today. “There is an all-out war by corn ethanol interests, and they are using scare tactics to get others on board,” said Patricia Monahan, a vehicles expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The rule would be the first in the nation to restrict planet-heating greenhouse gases from fuel. It is an essential component of the state’s landmark global warming law, which would slash the state’s carbon dioxide emissions by 15% over the next 11 years. President Obama has called for a national low-carbon fuel standard.

The Washington-based Truman National Security Project sent Schwarzenegger a letter this week from 66 retired military and intelligence officers — including former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane — saying that the California standard would give oil “an unfair advantage. . . . It is a matter of national security.”

However, at least one signer had second thoughts. Vice Admiral Dennis V. McGinn sent out a news release saying that “upon more careful research,” he found the letter “missed the mark” and that the California standard should be adopted immediately as a national model.

Former Gen. Wesley Clark, co-chairman of the biofuels association Growth Energy, is also leading a charge against the proposal, saying that the rule’s “indirect land use” provision unfairly counts the global impact of growing corn for fuel by factoring in the displacement of forests that would be razed to grow replacement crops.

Mary D. Nichols, chairwoman of the Air Resources Board, said the California proposal would boost the use of biofuels, “including just about everything but imported corn.” The rule is aimed at spurring investment in cellulosic low-carbon fuels made from switch grass and other non-food plants.

Nichols said that Pacific Ethanol’s Jones, a Republican, “has been unceasing in his efforts to engage the governor,” but the governor’s staff has “been completely hands off.”

However, Blake Simmons, an official with the Emeryville-based Joint BioEnergy Institute, said the governor “was open-minded” during the meeting. Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear would not comment.

The Air Resources Board is scheduled to vote on the regulation next month.


About Renergie

Renergie was formed by Ms. Meaghan M. Donovan on March 22, 2006 for the purpose of raising capital to develop, construct, own and operate a network of ten ethanol plants in the parishes of the State of Louisiana which were devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Each ethanol plant will have a production capacity of five million gallons per year (5 MGY) of fuel-grade ethanol.  Renergie’s “field-to-pump” strategy is to produce non-corn ethanol locally and directly market non-corn ethanol locally. On February 26, 2008, Renergie was one of 8 recipients, selected from 139 grant applicants, to share $12.5 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Renewable Energy Technologies Grants Program.  Renergie received $1,500,483 (partial funding) in grant money to design and build Florida’s first ethanol plant capable of producing fuel-grade ethanol solely from sweet sorghum juice. On  April 2, 2008, Enterprise Florida, Inc., the state’s economic development organization, selected Renergie as one of Florida’s most innovative technology companies in the alternative energy sector.  On January 20, 2009, Florida Energy & Climate Commission amended RET Grant Agreement S0386 to increase Renergie’s funding from $1,500,483 to $2,500,000. By blending fuel-grade ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump, Renergie will offer the consumer a fuel that is renewable, more economical, cleaner, and more efficient than unleaded gasoline.  Moreover, the Renergie project will mark the first time that Louisiana farmers will share in the profits realized from the sale of value-added products made from their crops.


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    Renergie created “field-to-pump," a unique strategy to locally produce and market advanced biofuel (“non-corn fuel ethanol”) via a network of small advanced biofuel manufacturing facilities. The purpose of “field-to-pump” is to maximize rural development and job creation while minimizing feedstock supply risk and the burden on local water supplies.


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