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States speak out in favor of extending ethanol tax credit

Nebraska would lose more than 13,700 jobs if the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit is allowed to expire in December, the Nebraska Corn Board stated in response to a new economic impact study.

“VEETC is an important component of our renewable fuels program, and now is certainly not the time to stunt the growth of biofuels or shock rural communities with significant job losses,” said Jon Holzfaster, a director of the Nebraska Corn Board and chair of the National Corn Growers Association ethanol committee. Holzfaster is a corn and cattle producer from Paxton.

The new study, conducted for the Renewable Fuels Association by economic consulting firm ENTRIX, concluded that not renewing VEETC would cost more than 112,000 American jobs and shut down as much as 37 percent of U.S. ethanol production.

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) urged Congress to quickly pass the “American Fuels Reinvestment Act,” HR 4940, introduced by Congressmen Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) and John Shimkus (R-IL).

“Ethanol pumps billion into Minnesota’s economy and is helping to sustain over 26,000 jobs. Ethanol is creating jobs and opportunity in communities across our state at the same time it is reducing our country’s dangerous and costly dependence on foreign oil,” said MCGA President DeVonna Zeug. “These incentives are essential to ensure that we continue to develop and advance American biofuels production until we reach a time when we no longer have to worry about the greedy actions of OPEC oil barons.”

Company partners with University to test biobutanol made from beetle-killed pine trees

Cobalt Technologies, based in Mountain View, California, has announced a partnership with Colorado State University to test biobutanol fuel made from pine trees that have been killed by mountain pine beetles.

The company converts forest waste and mill residues into “n-butanol,” which it says can be used as a drop-in biofuel for blending with gasoline, diesel and ethanol, or can be converted into jet fuel and plastics, or sold for use in paints, cleaners, adhesives and flavorings.

Mountain pine beetles have infested nearly half of Colorado’s five million acres of pine forest, and millions more acres of lodgepole and ponderosa pines across the Western U.S. and Canada have been affected as well. The engine testing will focus on a gasoline-butanol blend, conducted at the CSU Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory.

Osage Bio Energy contracts to sell barley protein meal from ethanol plant

Land O’Lakes Purina Feed will market the barley protein meal (BPM) from the Osage Bio Energy ethanol plant soon to be completed in Hopewell, Virginia.

BPM is a new protein-rich animal feed ingredient. The Osage plant includes a special milling technique that removes the hulls from the barley, which reduces the fiber and concentrates the protein and starch. The hulls will be pelletized at the site and sold as a renewable fuel source.

The facility is currently under construction and is scheduled to come online in late spring 2010. When complete, it will be the first commercial scale barley-to-ethanol processing plant in the United States.

Virent and Shell start production of biogasoline

On March 23, Virent Energy Systems, Inc. and Shell announced the start of production at its demonstration plant, which converts plant sugars into gasoline and gasoline components, calling it the world’s first.

The demonstration plant, located at Virent’s facilities in Madison, Wisconsin, is part of a joint biogasoline research and development effort announced by the companies in March 2008. The facility can produce up to 10,000 gallons per year, which will be used for engine and fleet testing.

The companies say the new biofuel can be blended with gasoline in high concentrations for use in standard gasoline engines. Virent says its patented BioForming® platform technology uses catalysts to convert plant sugars into hydrocarbon molecules like those produced at a petroleum refinery. The demonstration plant is currently using beet sugar as the feedstock, but other potential feedstocks are corn, wheat, sugarcane, corn stover, wheat straw, and sugarcane pulp.

USDA announces availability of funding to promote rural biomass and bioenergy production

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on March 12 that Fiscal Year 2009 funding is available again through three USDA programs to promote increased production of biomass and bioenergy.

Applications for remaining FY 2009 funding under the Biorefinery Assistance Program (Section 9003), which uses loan guarantees to develop, construct, and retrofit commercial-scale biorefineries, must be received by June 1, 2010.

Applications are also being accepted for remaining FY 2009 funding under the Repowering Assistance Program (Section 9004), which provides for payments to biorefineries (that were in existence when the Farm Bill was passed) to replace the use of fossil fuels in their operations with renewable energy from biomass. Biorefineries interested in obtaining funding must apply by June 15, 2010.

Those biomass producers eligible under the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels (Section 9005) may also apply to receive payment from remaining FY 2009 funds. Applications must be received by May 30, 2010. During the first round, the Department awarded funding to 123 recipients in 34 states to accelerate the production and usage of advanced biofuels.

“The Obama Administration is working aggressively to give our nation’s rural communities, farmers, ranchers, and producers of biofuels the financial tools they need to help bring greater energy independence to America,” Vilsack said. “This funding will help the nation’s advanced biofuel industry produce energy from sustainable rural resources, and in doing so create jobs and stimulate rural economies across the nation.”

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The American Coalition for Ethanol publishes Ethanol Today magazine each month to cover the biofuels industryís hot topics, including cellulosic ethanol, E85, corn ethanol, food versus fuel, ethanolís carbon footprint, E10, E15, and mid-range ethanol blends.
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