THE ESSENTIAL PERSPECTIVE
Bringing Corn in the
Vital introduces the people of the POET commodities team.
The Renewable Fuel Standard battles to hold ground
Step Up to the Plate
Let your voice be heard on Capitol Hill
Excellence in the Hills
POET Biorefining – Corning exemplifies good culture and good teamwork Fall 2013
THE FUTURE LOOKS
SO MUCH BRIGHTER ABOVE GROUND + At POET, we’re turning traditional ideas about energy production on their head. We combine human ingenuity with nature’s miracle of growth to produce efficient biofuels, foods, feeds and renewable alternatives to petrochemicals.
Opportunity is everywhere, if you know where to look. poet.com
CORN ON THE BRAIN by Steve Lange
As the first of the HERO series, Vital takes on a day in the life of a POET commodity team member.
BIG OIL PRESENTS: MR. SLICK & DUMMY
ACHIEVING EXCELLENCE IN THE HILLS
DRIVING IT HOME
by Lori Weaver The Renewable Fuel Standard and the RIN system battles to hold ground.
by Darrell Boone A good culture and great teamwork have made POET Biorefining – Corning a top performer and good community partner.
Visit www.poet.com for the latest news, career opportunities and plant profiles.
by Marcella Prokop The Step Up to the Plate campaign rallies encouragement and support for ethanol.
04 IN SIGHT
by Jeff Broin
06 FIRST LOOK
P / 605.965.2200 F / 605.965.2203
56 FROM THE HEARTLAND
08 TOP TWEETS 10 PULSE 18 NASCAR® UPDATE 36 PERSPECTIVE 42 BAROMETER 46 PROJECT LIBERTY UPDATE 49 RENEW 52 A PASSION FOR ETHANOL by Steve Lange
In the spirit of its continued commitment to being good stewards of the environment, POET is proud to produce Vital using 100% recycled paper, with eco-friendly soy-based ink.
POET, LLC 4615 North Lewis Avenue Sioux Falls, SD 57104
by Jeff Lautt
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COPYRIGHT Vital is published quarterly by POET, LLC and other individuals or entities. All materials within are subject to copyrights owned by POET. Any reproduction of all or part of any document found in Vital is expressly prohibited, unless POET or the copyright owner of the material has expressly granted its prior written consent to so reproduce, retransmit or republish the material. All other rights reserved. For questions, contact the POET legal department at 605.965.2200. The opinions and statements expressed by content contributors and advertisers in Vital are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of POET. Neither POET nor its third-party content providers shall be liable for any inaccuracies contained within Vital, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. ©2013 POET, LLC. All rights reserved. Publication Design & Layout: Cassie Medema email@example.com
STRONGER PLANTS. HIGHER YIELD. BETTER RETURNS. It’s the science of ethanol production from plow to pump from Novozymes. In the field Novozymes offers Ratchet™, our patented LCO Promoter Technology® for corn. This easy to use foliar improves photosynthesis and increases sugar production resulting in better stress tolerance and higheryields. Our powerful enzymes applied in ethanol production increase yields and optimize plant operations. For more information, visit www.novozymes.com
Novozymes is the world leader in bioinnovation. Together with customers across a broad array of industries we create tomorrow’s industrial biosolutions, improving our customers’ business and the use of our planet’s resources. Read more at www.novozymes.com.
LCO Promoter Technology® is a registered trademark and Ratchet™ is a trademark of Novozymes A/S. © 2013 Novozymes. All rights reserved. 2013-14677-01
IN SIGHT by Jeff Broin, Executive Chairman and Founder of POET
You’re no dummy. Don’t let the oil industry treat you like one. I hope you’ve seen this slogan in the television campaign run by Growth Energy featuring Mr. Slick and Dummy. These ads containing a ventriloquist and his wooden sidekick were designed to be lighthearted and to attract people’s attention while taking on a very serious subject matter. For years, the oil industry has been using their political power and public relations prowess to protect their oligopoly by blocking out any competitor to the transportation fuels marketplace. It’s a classic bullystomping-on-the-little-guy, David versus Goliath battle as Big Oil has spread mistruths and misinformation to the public and policy makers alike. You’ve seen this played out before. Remember the battle for telecommunications deregulation? And there have been many others in our nation’s history. There’s no doubt about it, in this fight for market share, renewable fuels is the underdog. But we do have many advantages; ethanol is renewable, less expensive than gasoline, burns cleaner than fossil fuels, is safe for your car, and is 100% American – sending dollars to Midwestern farmers instead of Middle Eastern Sheiks. The fact is, more ethanol use will put billions of dollars back in the American economy, driving a true economic recovery for our nation. The oil industry knows that ethanol is good for America. They also know that if ethanol advances to a 15% blend, refiners will become over-supplied; drastically cutting into the enormous profits they have been making off every consumer in America for the last several years. The catch – they don’t want you, or any other consumer to know this.
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So not only is Big Oil running smear campaigns on television and in newspapers, last year they spent over $140 million in lobbying alone. They are the buzz in the ear of every elected official on Capitol Hill – with hundreds of oil paid lobbyists working diligently to repeal or rewrite the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that ensures a marketplace for renewable fuels. The oil industry may have paid lobbyists, bloggers and public relations firms, but we have one thing they don’t have. You! You have something they don’t have – you care about the future of our country. So I ask you to make your voice heard. Let your Congressman and Senators know that renewable fuels are good for America and that the RFS gives motorists a much-needed choice at the pump. And give to the POET Political Action Committee. In addition to caring, it’s critical that we support our congressmen and senators that do support renewable fuels. Over the years, I’ve learned that people who support ethanol generally do so not only for economic gain, but because we know it’s the right thing for our country and our world. We know that our energy problems can’t continue to be solved by digging and drilling – raping the earth of its resources. We understand nature’s miracle through a seed, soil and sun and know that the power of agriculture can both feed and fuel our world. And, we know there is a much better way to fuel America. Hey, oil industry . . . WE’RE NO DUMMIES!
Machines That Reveal Many Opportunities
If you are looking to explore new options in biofuels production, look to centrifuges from GEA Westfalia Separator. Our 120 year history includes more than 20 years in the ethanol industry. During this time, we have developed technologies that maximize profits and deliver savings through the entire processing chain. Our stable of separating equipment, including standard decanters, gas-tight decanters, high g-force self-cleaning disc clarifiers and separators, is capable of handling the full range of both established and new feedstocks. Plus, we offer separators for both by-product and wastewater processing. To learn more about the services and equipment our team can provide, contact Keith Funsch at 201-784-4322 or Keith.Funsch@gea.com or visit us online at www.wsus.com. GEA Mechanical Equipment US, Inc.
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FIRST LOOK by Jeff Lautt, CEO, POET
Anyone can be a hero. Heroic actions, both big and small, happen every day around us. In this issue of Vital, we’re highlighting heroes here at POET by taking a look at one group of people in ethanol production – our commodity teams – which faced daunting odds over the last year and did a phenomenal job of keeping POET running as efficiently as possible under adverse circumstances. In future issues, we’ll look at other groups of heroes among our team members. In 2012, a nearly perfect spring helped farmers get their crops in early, prompting expectations of record yields for the coming harvest. But that optimism turned sour as a hot and dry July baked fields across the middle of the country. Corn became scarce as some farmers were forced to simply plow under the crops that they had been so hopeful for just months earlier. The drought wreaked havoc on grain supplies. At POET, the impact varied from plant to plant, depending on the location. Plants in states like Missouri and Indiana faced severe circumstances, and even those plants in areas with a stronger supply still saw challenges with rising grain prices. Mother Nature is never predictable, and we work hard to manage the ups and downs of the commodity market with the help of POET Risk Management as smartly as possible. But no matter how hard you try, you can never be fully prepared for a natural disaster such as drought. All of the POET plants had to quickly adjust to the new outlook as drought conditions became evident. Within the POET network, we had one temporary shutdown, during which we were able to upgrade POET Biorefining – Macon. The rest of the plants were able to stay online throughout the year thanks to hard work and creative corn sourcing by our commodities teams, POET Risk Management, and more. This was an enormous accomplishment given the circumstances, and our team members were heroes for POET and for the entire industry. In recent months I have been able to visit many of the POET plants, and I will be visiting more in the near future. I know that many of our team members overcome difficult circumstances every day. Our ability to quickly focus our talents on the challenges at hand and work together to find creative solutions is part of what makes this company great. We have heroes working to transform new types of feedstock into renewable fuel with Project LIBERTY. Many of these people have devoted their careers to
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commercializing a technology that some say couldn’t be commercialized. These folks – in laboratories, at their computers, in the fields talking with farmers, on the construction site – are making history right now, and it’s exciting to see their efforts coming together in Emmetsburg. The ethanol industry has also been blessed to have people and organizations outside of our industry who are real heroes on our behalf. • Farmers who are harvesting a new crop – bales of corn cobs, leaves and husk – for biofuels. • Investors who in the early days of ethanol production took a risk on a fledgling industry that has since grown to be economic force in the Midwest. • Equipment manufacturers such as New Holland who – rather than standing on the sidelines – join in the public battle to preserve the Renewable Fuel Standard and secure our farmers’ future as producers of food, feed and fuel. • Retail station owners who are willing to be the first in their area to offer a new fuel – E15 – as well as the others who offer midlevel blends and E85, all supporters of renewable fuel and fuel choice for consumers. • NASCAR, which has become an important means of communicating our message to Americans, many of whom do not live in the Midwest and can’t see the positive effects of ethanol production in their daily lives. These people and more are the reasons why our industry has accomplished so much. Today we are 10 percent of the gasoline pool. That doesn’t happen without heroic efforts on many fronts. At POET, we strive to accomplish big, bold things. We strive to leave a legacy, to advance human nature. These are not small endeavors, and they cannot be accomplished by small people. It is the heroes at POET, as well as those both within the industry and outside of it, that take this bold vision and make it reality.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY GROWTH ENERGY. From advocating for ethanol on Capitol Hill, to validating higher ethanol blends through NASCAR®, to calling out Big Oil with a national television campaign, Growth Energy is there for the producers and supporters of the ethanol industry. We know we’re in a battle, but we’re ready for the fight.
Learn more at GrowthEnergy.org
Austin Dillon and Austin Dillon’s autograph are trademarks of Austin Dillon. All trademarks and the likeness of the No. 39 racecar are used under license from their owners. NASCARh is a registered trademark of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc.
Growth Energy @GrowthEnergy
Corn-based #ethanol #RINs are
Brian Jennings @BiofuelBrian
top lobbyist for .@API_News,
trading around ($0.40) a RIN;
whose members make
less than a 1/3 of what they
something that causes cancer
peaked at earlier this year
says the Renewable Fuel Standard is a cancer? #classy
Fuels America @FuelsAmerica
Food or fuel? Both. “The data
#RFSworks Daniel Gibbs @drbiomass
IEATask40: Biomass provides
shows that farmers are producing
10% global energy use http://
a larger crop in a more
shar.es/Kn0N8 Definitive rpt
global #biofuels and #biomass use #biochat #ethanol
In 2013 a gallon of #ethanol (with
Claire Poole @claireypoole
“Around1/3 of food produced
a RIN included) cost at least 20
globally is lost or wasted”:
cents and as much as $1 less
than a gallon of gas
com/environment/20 … #foodvsfueldebate #biochat
Dave Loebsack @daveloebsack
Carson Berger @CarsonBerger
.@EPA has flexibility to address
I’ve run over 15k miles on
concerns with #RFS - no legislative
#E50 on this non modified non
#flexfuel vehicle without an issue. Hmm #YoureNoDummy
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“People are coming back to the farm & starting their own businesses harvesting #biomass.” - @POETDSM’s Hartig at Advanced #Biofuels Conf
“Big Oil does not care about consumers” - Jeff Broin on the newest “You’re No Dummy” ad from @GrowthEnergy
Oily Bird @TheOilyBird
Seven years after the worst maritime oil disaster in the Philippines, the same oil giant caused a repeat performance
Twitter is a forum for thousands of conversations taking place in 140-character comments, with participants from all over the world. People or organizations are represented by user names such as @ethanolbypoet. The topic of conversation is often highlighted with a hashtag (#). This is a sampling of what’s being said about energy and biofuels. The comments do not necessarily represent the opinions of POET, LLC. WWW.VITALBYPOET.COM
“Over the last ten years, the researchers found that the increases in production agriculture have far outweighed any changes that have happened in the use of agricultural land for biofuels. In fact, they found that twice as much agricultural land has been used for urbanization, particularly in China and the European Union. Much more agricultural land has actually gone to other uses rather than for the production of biofuels.” - National Corn Growers Association Director of Biofuels Dr. Pam Keck, on a recent study out of the Netherlands regarding “indirect land use change.”
“As a former Governor of Pennsylvania I often had to remind myself, and others, that an initiative’s benefits – and the time required to take root and truly achieve change, requires perseverance. America’s innovators throughout time have demonstrated one thing beyond a shadow of a doubt: all they need is a fair chance to commercialize their ideas. The RFS mandate provides a long term runway to achieve these goals. We remain obligated to afford it that chance.” - Former Gov. Mark Schweiker (R-Pa.), in an opinion piece fun in The Hill
From issues relating to government policies, to infrastructure and opinion pieces, the ethanol industry has much to be reported on. Here is a representation of the past few months of news coverage. The comments do not necessarily represent the opinions of POET, LLC.
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“We had a great summer for construction and have been able to stay on track to start producing cellulosic bio-ethanol early next year. It’s impressive to see this technology coming to life in Emmetsburg.” - Steve Hartig, General Manager – Licensing for POET-DSM, on Project LIBERTY construction progress, which remains on schedule for an early 2014 startup.
“The reality is that because they have blocked investment in infrastructure and created marketing challenges for higher blends of biofuels, the petitioners are now requesting the Administrator waive the 2014 RVOs to 9.7 percent of the domestic fuel supply. They created the very situation from which they are requesting relief.” - Brent Erickson, Executive Vice President of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, in a letter to the EPA asking them to reject the oil industry petition to waive the 2013 volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard.
9/19 “After 1,002 consecutive days of paying more than $3 for a gallon of gas, Americans are demanding choices at the pump. Our new poll found that 82% of US adults support having E15, renewable fuel made of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, at their local gas stations.” - Fuels America, in a statement revealing polling data that shows drivers want more fuel options at the pump.
“Faced with growing competition from new sources of fuel promoted by the RFS, the oil industry has publicly stated their goal of repealing the RFS. At the same time, we have heard reports that oil companies are taking steps to undermine efforts to distribute renewable fuels that could help to meet the RFS requirement.” - Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission and the US Department of Justice asking for an investigation into oil company tactics for blocking E15 sales by fuel retailers.
“We are letting consumers know they are being deceived by Big Oil, who is preventing them from a choice and savings at the pump by denying access to renewable fuels. All so they can protect their market share and excessive profits. Our message is simple - You’re no dummy. Don’t let the oil industry treat you like one.” - Tom Buis, Growth Energy CEO, on the launch of the organization’s “You’re No Dummy” national advertising campaign.
FAST FACTS Ethanol is a hot topic, but what is it really?
Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid.
noun 1. systematic chemical name for ethyl alcohol
If it’s alcohol, can I drink it? Essentially, it’s not much different from drinkable alcohol - just STRONGER
All ethanol for transportation fuel is denatured (gasoline added) before it leaves the biorefinery making it unfit for human consumption.
Don’t drink it! Crown Royal whiskey
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Bud Light beer
Samuel Morey developed an engine that ran on ethanol and turpentine.
Early inventors saw the benefits of ethanol almost two centuries ago. Henry Ford went as far as to name ethanol ‘the fuel of the future.’ The early years looked promising. Chemical analyses of ancient organics
1860 German engine inventor Nicholas Otto used ethanol as the fuel in one of his engines.
1862 The Union Congress put a $2.08/gallon alcohol
absorbed into pottery jars from the early Neolithic village of Jiahu in Henan province in China have revealed that a mixed fermented beverage of rice, honey, and fruit (hawthorn fruit and/or grape) was being produced as early as the seventh millennium before Christ (B.C.).
tax on ethanol to help pay for the Civil War.
Sources: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Dec 21;101(51):17593-8. Epub 2004 Dec 8.
Henry Ford built his first automobile, the quadricycle, to run on pure ethanol.
1906 More than 50 years after imposing the tax on ethanol, Congress removed it, making ethanol an alternative to gasoline as a motor fuel.
1908 Henry Ford produced the Model T as a flexible fuel vehicle, it could run on ethanol, gasoline or a combination of the two.
1917 The need for fuel during World War I drove up ethanol demand to 50-60 million gallons per year.
1919 The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (Prohibition) was ratified. It reads, “The manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors… is hereby prohibited,” reducing the use of ethanol as a transportation fuel.
What Henry Ford saw in the early 1900s, NASCAR® sees today. In 2011, NASCAR® switched to a fuel blend including 15% ethanol. Sunoco Green E15 is a highperformance fuel, providing the same drivability without harming engines.
Halted by Prohibition, the ethanol industry supply and demand has roller-coastered since the early 1900s from events varying from World War II to various government regulations. Sources: Energy Information Administration, Policies to Promote Non-hydro Renewable Energy in the United States and Selected Countries, February 2005. Energy Information Administration, Renewable Energy Annual 1995, December 2005. Fuel Testers.com, Ethanol Fuel History (http://www.fuel-testers.com/ethanol_fuel_history.html), May 2008. WWW.VITALBYPOET.COM
ethanol FAST FACTS Ethanol is a hot topic, but what is it really?
100 90 80 70 60 50
Ethanol is a high octane fuel â€“ one of the of safest, high octane fuels available today.
Gasoline Blend Components Octane Value Octane is used to allow the engine to
compress the fuel further
But, why is
reduces engine size which
Octane is a fuel property that allows the engine
to operate at higher compression ratios
THERMAL EFFICIENCY OF OT TO CYCLE 0.7
0.5 Typical compression range of the modern engine
0.4 0.3 0.2
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An important characteristic of engine efficiency is compression ratio. Increase the compression ratio, the efficiency of the engine goes up.
ARY S R E A N NIV 1984 â€“
Big Oil Presents
Mr. Slick & Dummy The new voices for renewable fuels. Or is that just voice? Early this fall, new commercial stars were introduced as television ads featuring Mr. Slick and Dummy were played on several national cable news stations across the country. As a part of Growth Energy’s new advertising campaign, a ventriloquist, Mr. Slick and his sidekick, Dummy, hit the stage to demonstrate the slick and deceptive practices used by the oil industry in their attempts to limit the use of renewable fuels such as ethanol. In the ads, Mr. Slick tries to persuade the audience that fossil fuels such as oil are better than renewable fuels. However, Dummy has a hard time staying on script and spoils Mr. Slick’s message by revealing the truth that more renewable fuels we use means we consume less oil – and that hurts the oil industry’s pocket book. The ads typically end with an announcer saying, “You’re no dummy. Don’t let the oil industry treat you like one,” followed by a call to act by contacting Congress to tell them to support the Renewable Fuel Standard.
TALL TALES TOLD BY THE
your E yE s (or ear s!) notE: this pErforMancE is for EntErtainMEnt
you’re no dummy. don’t let the oil industry treat you like one. But if you like Big oil’s wild stories, keep listening to Mr. slick and dummy!
purpOSES OnLY. BiG oil is not rEsponsiBlE for telling you that the RFS has reduced our foreign oil use, revitalized farm economies and created more than 400,000 US jobs that can’t be outsourced.
Get the facts at
YourenoDummy.COM brought to you by
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Mr. Slick: Do you know what the RFS is, dummy?
Dummy: It’s the Renewable Fuel Standard. It requires the oil companies to blend renewable fuels with their gasoline.
Mr. Slick: And that’s real bad, right?
Dummy: Yea, for Big Oil. Because it means we’ll use less oil and more renewable ….!
Mr. Slick: Dummy!
Dummy: Uh oh…
About Ventriloquism • The actor who plays Mr. Slick is an actual ventriloquist. • The name ventriloquist comes from the Latin for “to speak from the stomach.” • Comedic style ventriloquism is a fairly recent innovation, originating in the days of vaudeville in the late 19th century. • The hardest letters for a ventriloquist to speak are f, v, b, p and m. • The fear of ventriloquist dummies is called automatonophobia. • The puppet is not typically called a dummy, but a figure. WWW.VITALBYPOET.COM
NASCAR® UPDATE submitted by Ryan Welsh, Director of Sales and Marketing for American Ethanol
American Ethanol, Making its Mark In its 3rd year with NASCAR®, American Ethanol is having a year for the record books. The first mega milestone came on a track called the Big E on a summer’s night in June. It was the first time NASCAR ran on a dirt track in over four decades. A million and a half viewers tuned in on that night to watch racers battle at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio – easily making it the most watched NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™ Race of the year. It was a mega TV attraction for the avid NASCAR fan. Austin Dillon, driver of the #39 truck sponsored by American Ethanol, took the win in storybook fashion with all the fender banging, side-by-side racing and slide jobs only a bedtime story from “The King” (Richard Petty) himself would bestow. The #39 truck and two other pieces of Austin’s memorabilia are now in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., shrouded in American Ethanol colors. King Richard Petty won the last NASCAR dirt track race and his career turned out pretty good.
NASCAR® is a registered trademark of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™ logo and word mark are used under license by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc., and Sprint. The NASCAR Nationwide Series™ logo and word mark are used under license by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc., and Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™ logo and word mark are used under license by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. and Camping World.
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Photos courtesy of American Ethanol Racing
Old School Another big milestone for American Ethanol this season was partnering with racing legend Kenny Wallace at Chicagoland in September. The race marked his 900th career NASCAR race joining the “900 Club,” putting him in an elite group of drivers that includes Richard Petty, Ricky Rudd, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Labonte, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt and Dale Jarrett. He is one of NASCAR’s top commentators and is also a part of the American Ethanol team as an advocate, driver and spokesperson. Though Wallace’s career as a driver is winding down, there is no doubt he has left his mark on the sport and will continue to be a spotlight in both racing and American Ethanol. Memorable Kenny quote from American Ethanol’s fan activation at the Monster Mile in Dover, DE: “Ethanol is a high performance fuel, if you don’t like high performance you won’t like American Ethanol.”
Photos courtesy of American Ethanol Racing
Mile Marker 5 …Million Right in the midst of the 2013 chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™, another milestone will be reached. At the Phoenix International Speedway this November, NASCAR will reach 5 million miles powered by Sunoco Green E15. That means all three national series (NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series) have run and run hard – 9000 rpms for hours at a crack – using American Ethanol for 5 million miles. That’s equivalent to making a road trip from Los Angeles to New York and back over 900 times. Of course, the speeds they run are not allowed on a typical road trip. The most notable fact – there has not been a single problem or an incident with the fuel in those 5 million miles. In this intense and stressful environment and being run in engines that have not been changed or adapted to use ethanol, this fuel is performing by all accounts. Stay tuned on Twitter, Facebook and/or americanethanol.com for more on 5 million miles with American Ethanol!
Follow Us Stay up to date on all the exciting activity happening for American Ethanol this year by following us on Twitter @AmericanEthanol and liking us on Facebook at facebook. com/AmericanEthanol. These pages will feature exclusive insider photos and behind the scenes coverage of the American Ethanol drivers and all the NASCAR action this year.
Itâ€™s Working The Renewable Fuel Standard and the RIN system battles to hold ground after coming under fire time and time again by big oil interests. by Lori Weaver
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It’s working. That’s how Minnesota farmer Chad Willis sums up the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), but also why he says the policy – including the Renewable Identification Number (RIN) system – continues to come under fire by big oil interests. The Willmar-area farmer chairs the ethanol committee of the National Corn Growers Association and serves on the Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council’s board. Willis’ assessment appears sound. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 2012 saw the lowest level of imported oil in two decades. Increased use of biofuels is a contributing factor. “Thanks to the RFS, the monopoly enjoyed by oil companies on the transportation fuels market is loosening,” Willis said. “More and more consumers are also seeing the environmental and economic benefits of homegrown renewable fuels.” Despite progress, the country’s dependence on foreign oil remains challenging. In 2012, the U.S. had a net import of 7.4 million barrels daily and led the world in overall consumption. The RFS originated with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, later expanded by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). EISA calls for mandated increases of biofuel blending each year until 2022, when levels should reach 35 billion gallons of ethanol and 1 billion gallons of biodiesel. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency created the RIN system to ensure
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compliance. RINs are used by obligated parties to show compliance with RFS mandates. Obligated parties are producers or importers of gasoline and diesel in the 48 contiguous states plus Hawaii, including blenders producing gasoline from nonrenewable stocks.
Understanding the RIN program Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) are issued per gallon of biofuels at the point of production or import. Biofuel producers must follow EPA guidelines in creating the 38-character number that becomes the RIN. Once created, the RIN is reported to EPA. The RINs are transferred whenever biofuels change ownership. Those receiving the RINs must include a quantity of biofuels equal to a given percentage of their total sales of gasoline. Once blended, the RINs are turned over to the EPA to count toward that company’s mandated portion.
Buying Excess RINs At times, ethanol or biodiesel blending is greater than the mandated level, generating excess RINs for purchase as credits against shortfalls. This enables blenders to meet mandatory requirements without blending any biofuels. Blending may even temporarily drop below mandates. “RINs have become more publicized in recent months as we’ve run up against the blend wall. If there is no blending beyond 10 percent, there’s really not a way to get more RINs into the system, yet compliance obligations continue to increase,” explained Jason Searl, Executive Vice President, POET Ethanol Products. “At that point, the obligated companies are going to try to blend what they can or buy RINs. The latter sends a signal to the marketplace for prices to go higher as incentive to comply with the standard.” RINs can increase from a few cents to over a dollar. “Too many obligated parties are buying RINs instead of blending more ethanol,” Searl said. “In the backdrop, they have a massive undertaking to repeal the RFS. At some point, prices will get to where the obligated party will need to blend more biofuels to allow more RINs into the system.” Some attacks by big oil interests blame RIN prices for higher gas prices. “On average, only a portion of the RIN prices are passed on to the consumer since the RIN price is a cost to some fuel suppliers, but a source of revenue to others,” noted Darrel Good, Professor Emeritus,
Consumers are going to continue to be stuck with the bill until we have the competition and diversity. That’s what the RFS is creating - and it’s working.
- Anne Steckel VP of Federal Affairs, National Biodiesel Board
exorbitantly high gas prices, even as we’re drilling record amounts of domestic oil. Consumers are going to continue to be stuck with the bill until we have competition and diversity. That’s what the RFS is creating – and it’s working,” said Anne Steckel, Vice President of Federal Affairs, National Biodiesel Board, in echoing Willis’ sentiment.
Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana. Because of lagging gasoline sales this year, the E10 blend wall came into play. The fuel industry was unable to blend enough ethanol to hit the mandated biofuels level without going above the 10 percent limit per gallon of gasoline. Those in the renewable fuel industry are all too familiar with opposition to the RFS and the misplaced blame on RINs. “Oil companies are flat-out unwilling to blend ethanol past 10 percent. Instead, they are paying a premium to not do their job. As a result, RIN prices have gone up,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, an ethanol industry advocacy group. But opposition can’t dispute what many see as obvious. “Petroleum companies are obviously looking for any excuse to explain why Americans are paying
IDENTIFICATION NUMBER A RIN is a 38-character numeric code that corresponds to a volume of renewable fuel produced in or imported into the United States. RINs remain with the renewable fuel through the distribution system and ownership changes.
2013 VOLUMES FOR RENEWABLE FUEL STANDARD (BILLION GALLONS)
Biomass- Based Diesel
Total Renewable Fuel
(including corn ethanol)
EPA Proposed Rule
0.014 1.28 2.75 16.55
EPA Final Rule
0.006 1.28 2.75 16.55
CHANGE FROM 2012 Source: bipartisanpolicy.org
Up from zero
EPA FINALIZES 2013 VOLUMES FOR THE RENEWABLE FUEL STANDARD On August 6, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rulemaking establishing the 2013 volume requirements for cellulosic biofuel-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
$1.40 $1.20 $1.00 $0.80 $0.60 $0.40 $0.20 $0.00 Jan ’11
THE ESSENTIAL PERSPECTIVE
THE LIFECYCLE OF A RIN RINs
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Note: Fuel represents biofuels, motor gasoline, and diesel fuel.
RINs generated ATTACHED Physical Fuel
ETHANOL PLANT AND ETHANOL IMPORTS
RIN Renewable Volume Obligation
RINs SEPARATED RINs
RETIRED TO MEET RVO
Source: OPIS Ethanol & Biodiesel Information Service
October ’13 WWW.VITALBYPOET.COM
Achieving Excellence in the Hills
A good culture and great teamwork have made the POET Biorefining â€“ Corning in southwest Iowa a top performer and good community partner. by Darrell Boone | photos by Greg Latza
THE ESSENTIAL PERSPECTIVE
It’s a fact. Most ethanol plants – because they’re located in good corn country – are located on pretty flat ground and can be seen for miles. But not the one in Corning, Iowa. “This is one of the few plants that can’t be seen from the road because we’re hidden by the hills,” says POET Biorefining – Corning General Manager Greg Olsen. “But this is a beautiful area here, it’s very picturesque.” And although nearly all ethanol plants are located in rural areas, it doesn’t get much more rural than Adams County, Iowa, population 4,029. Corning, the county seat and the birthplace of Tonight Show icon Johnny Carson, only has about 1,600 residents. The plant, POET’s twentieth and its seventh in Iowa, opened in May of 2007 and produces 65 million gallons of ethanol per year from 23 million bushels of local corn. And while essentially all of Iowa is great corn country, Adams County – because of its pretty terrain – doesn’t produce quite as much as much as its neighboring counties. “Our draw area is a little bigger than most,” says Olsen. That’s not all that’s unique about the Corning plant. It accesses 40 percent of its water supply from the city’s wastewater treatment plant, providing a significant savings for the city of Corning. (The purified water is used for the plant’s cooling towers only, however – it never comes in contact with any of the actual ethanol manufacturing process). The rest of the water is drawn from two local lakes, making the plant one of the few that doesn’t utilize wells.
Great Teamwork Olsen became Corning’s GM just a couple of months before it opened, and had the luxury of being able to hire all of his own people. He recalls that there weren’t many people with ethanol experience at the time, but rather he was looking for people who fit the culture he was trying to build. It appears he got it right. “I’ve always wanted this to be a plant that farmers and customers want to come to, with customer service that makes them want to come back,” says Olsen, who gives all of the credit to his employees. “I really can’t say enough about the amazing group of people we have here at this plant, how they’re driven, friendly, have a great work ethic, and have come together so well as a team. They make my job a lot easier.” That teamwork has resulted in a plant that’s established an outstanding track record for being efficient, attractive, profitable, and safe. Over the years the plant has received numerous railroad safety awards, and last year were tops in POET’s annual Operations Compliance Review and Environmental Health and Safety Review, which measures a number of
key performance factors. The plant and its employees have also been a positive addition to the Corning and Adams County communities. “Besides providing good jobs, the plant has been very, very involved in the community,” says Ouida Wyman, Executive Director of the Adams County Chamber of Commerce. “They are always there when we need something, always giving back to the community, and many times we don’t even have to ask. I’ve never heard one negative thing about them. They’re awesome!”
Jeff Butler Maintenance Manager POET Biorefining – Corning
THE ESSENTIAL PERSPECTIVE
POET Biorefining – Corning GM Greg Olsen says the plant always looks great, and gives much of the credit for setting the tone for the plant’s tiptop appearance to Maintenance Manager Jeff Butler. “I come into work thinking I want this plant to look like a retail store,” says Butler. “There are so many benefits people get out of a clean plant, like safety, for example. When things are dirty, it covers up important warning signs on the equipment. I can’t remember the last time we had an accident around here.” Butler lists other benefits of keeping his plant clean, including improved pride and morale, establishing a business-like atmosphere, fostering good work habits, and even better production. “To me, I believe having a clean plant is the key to everything,” he says. “I enjoy seeing the smiles on people’s faces when they come to work and everything’s perfect. It’s just my thing.” The transplanted Michigander also says he’s found the good life in rural Iowa. “It’s like going back to Mayberry,” he says.
SUPPOSED TO BE
POET Biorefining – Corning Grain Buyer Polly Sproles loves working at the plant, and believes her being there is a “God thing.” “When the plant was being built, I used to drive by there about every day and found myself just being drawn to it,” she recalls. “I didn’t know why, it was really kind of strange.” Finally a family member encouraged the stay-athome mom to apply for a position if she really felt that strongly. So she did. By then it was the last day to turn in applications, and the plant still needed a weigh master. In her interview Sproles, who has an outgoing and friendly nature, was told they were looking for a “nice person” to fill the slot. She got the job. After six years as weigh master, Sproles switched to being a grain buyer. In both positions, she says she loves talking with farmers, truck drivers, and other customers. “Everything came together like I believe it was supposed to,” says Sproles, who likes to spend time with her two, now college-age daughters and relax with horses off the job. “That’s why I’m here, and feel this is where I belong.”
Polly Sproles Grain Buyer POET Biorefining – Corning
Connie Hancock Lab Technician POET Biorefining – Corning
KENYA TRIP WAS
EYE OPENER When POET opened up the opportunity for any plant employee to go on a recent mission trip to Kenya, Corning’s Lab Technician Connie Hancock stepped up. “It sounded to me like a chance of a lifetime, to be able to see another part of the world and have a great experience,” says Hancock. “I also wanted to help some other people.” But before traveling, mission trip team members had to come up with the funds to make the trip. Hancock’s fellow employees held a silent auction and passed a donation sheet to raise money. In all, they raised more than $2,800, which covered most of Hancock’s trip expenses. So Connie and 17 fellow POET employees and family members made the long trip to help build a greenhouse for an all-girls school in Sultan Hamud, Kenya. Hancock is glad she signed up. “It was very eye-opening, very humbling” says the grandmother of two (soon to be three). “It was very different, and really makes you appreciate all that we have here in the States. It was something I’ll never forget. I really appreciate my fellow team members for helping to make it possible.” WWW.VITALBYPOET.COM
Emore Ronken Commodity Manager POET Biorefining – Preston
Corn Brain on the
by Steve Lange | photos by Greg Latza
THE ESSENTIAL PERSPECTIVE
Over the next several issues, Vital is going to give you a chance to meet the team at POET. They are the heroes of our company and of our industry. Their day job – and for some, over-night job – includes producing ethanol. But it’s more than that. It’s a passion for this American fuel and the ag communities they reside in. It’s a better future for their kids and grandkids.
So let’s start at the beginning. To produce cornethanol, we need… corn. You guessed it. 500 million bushels of corn are needed to produce the 1.6 billion gallons of ethanol that POET blends into the fuel supply every year. That’s nearly 4 percent of the U.S. corn crop and enough corn to fill the Dallas Cowboys Stadium six times over. The task of procuring those 500 million bushels falls on the shoulders of the commodities team at the POET’s 27 biorefineries. This may seem a daunting task to some, but the commodities team at POET is some of the best in the industry. And they take this in stride. The commodities team is the face and the personality of POET. They are your friends and neighbors. And they like to get a little flack for their most recent radio ads. You thought that voice was familiar, didn’t you? The commodities team includes commodity managers, supervisors and assistants as well as grain buyers and scale masters. Each has their own responsibilities and challenges. Though, you might think POET’s commodity team would have a single focus – buying corn – it’s much more than that. The commodity managers will tell you it’s not about buying corn. It’s about building relationships. “The farmers are our bread and butter,” says Emore Ronken, Commodity Manager at POET Biorefining – Preston, Minn. “The farmers know that what we say is what we do. We don’t have gimmicks. We’re straight shooters. That’s what you need to be in this job.” And it’s not just a few dozen farmers or even
What the POET Commodity Teams Do: It’s a big job to make sure each plant has enough corn to keep the plant running 24 hours a day 365 days a year. To determine the area’s market price, the team must be proficient in local market’s supply and demand by working with local farmers to understand the size of the farms and their storage. They also must evaluate the surrounding local grain elevators to determine how much they buy and store throughout the year. Who’s on a typical Commodity team? Commodity Manager Commodity Supervisor Commodity Assistants Senior Grain Buyers Grain Buyers Scale Master
Fast Facts: POET buys grain from over 15,000 farmers. POET enters into over 80,000 grain buying contracts per year. About 600,000 semi loads of grain are delivered to POET plants each year.
Linda Schroepfer Commodity Manager POET Biorefining – Lake Crystal
That’s about 100 truckloads of grain per plant each and every weekday.
Mike Knueven Commodity Manager POET Biorefining – Leipsic
Matt Gerhold Commodity Manager POET Biorefining – Macon
THE ESSENTIAL PERSPECTIVE
a few hundred farmers. The commodities team across all POET locations signs contracts and builds relationships with over 20,000 farmers. These farmers need to trust that each commodities team member they interact with is truthful and giving them their best possible deal. And POET, says Ronken, sets the tone. “Farmers know if they want to haul corn today, we’ll be here,” says Ronken, who worked in the grain elevator business for 20-plus years before joining POET in 1998. Ronken’s typical day starts as soon as he wakes up and checks the markets and calls his brokers. Once in the plant, he holds an early-morning meeting with his commodity team to focus on the day ahead, the week ahead, and long-term projects. The first delivery trucks – more than 300 on a fall harvest day – are already beginning to line up. And the phone calls – from farmers checking purchase prices and looking for market predictions and negotiating delivery contracts – are just beginning. Ronken, like other commodity managers, spends part of his day keeping an eye on the Chicago Board of Trade. “I monitor that continuously during the day and two or three times a night,” he says. Another important aspect is determining corn prices. “We’re always looking at the plant’s corn needs versus inventory and researching the different market usage in this area.” He completes dozens – maybe hundreds – of transactions per day. He also oversees inventory levels for the plant’s other products – ethanol, dried distillers grains, CO2, and corn oil. “You never know what you’re going to get on any given day,” says Commodity Manager Linda Schroepfer, who has worked at the Lake Crystal, Minn. plant for eight years. “But you know what? That’s the best part of the job. The fun is learning all of your customers’ personalities and how to deal with them – which ones you can give grief to and which ones are all business. The day could bring anything.” It was one of those “bring anything” days that, in 1997, led to Schroepfer’s career as a commodity manager. “I was doing accounting work for Christensen Farms in Minnesota and they let their grain buyer go,” says Schroepfer, who grew up on a family farm in Minnesota. “My boss told me they’d already hired the new buyer and I said ‘Who is he?’ and he said ‘It’s a
she.’ I thought that was strange, since you don’t hear of many female grain buyers. I said ‘Who is she?’ My boss said ‘I’m looking at her.’” Today, Schroepfer oversees a plant with annual numbers that mirror the average POET biorefinery – 20 million bushels in; nearly 60 million gallons of ethanol out. “On a day to day basis, I really try to work on being a coach and mentor to our team members,” she says. “Sure, we’re commodity managers, but a typical day for me means being a people manager.” Schroepfer says she talks to POET’s other commodity managers on a weekly basis. “We’re always sending ideas past each other,” she says. “When I was looking at buying a new moisture tester, I sent out an email to the commodities group asking what they’d purchased and how they’d liked it. The team feedback is amazing.” Mike Knueven, a “farm kid with ag in [his] blood,” took over as commodity manager for POET’s plant in his hometown of Leipsic, Ohio in 2007. “We’re not just improving things at the local level,” he says. “We’re doing something that can change the world, one bushel of corn, one gallon of ethanol, one ton of feed at a time.” While Knueven points to the technical aspects of a typical day – things like the checking and balancing of the grain position and the output of the plant processes – he says communication is a key component. “We’re constantly communicating with customers and team members and with POET Risk Management, POET Nutrition and POET Ethanol Products,” he says. “The key is building trust and getting to know people, and we do that. We hold customer appreciation events, everything from firing up the grill at harvest to attending a Toledo Mud Hens baseball game.” Matt Gerhold, Commodity Manager at POET’s Macon, Mo. plant, says he’s “had corn on the brain for 22 years.” After 10 years with Archer Daniels Midland, Gerhold took over as Commodity Manager for POET in 2001 in a move that brought him close to the crop and cattle farm where he grew up. For Gerhold, no day is typical. “We deal with 500 farms, but as far as people – landlords, brothers, uncles, drivers – we have 1,200 customers,” he says. “You can’t get typical when you’re dealing with that many personalities.”
Gerhold’s Mo. location, in itself, is atypical by POET’s standards. Without the centralized, largescale corn-growing found near POET’s other biorefineries, Gerhold’s team buys corn from farmers up to 100 miles away, twice the reach of most POET plants. The commodity team, says Gerhold, personifies one of POET’s mottos: embrace change. “There’s something new here every day – a new thought or a new piece of equipment or a new process,” he says. “You’re going to get change whether you like it or not, so you may as well be in on the process. You have to be able to deal with the days where you have to go above and beyond.” For the team, even those “above and beyond” days are taken in stride. Mike Knueven tells the story about plant members from all departments forming a mid-December bucket brigade to remove old bricks, and haul in new ones, from a Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer. “Take a brick and pass it down. Everyone chipped in. That’s what we do here.” While Gerhold says his job entails everything from walking the plant to “covering the scale when the scale man can’t,” the one daily constant he embraces most is the art-meets-science of predicting market direction. “If we can help our corn customers get more money through good marketing decisions, we’ve taken the money from Chicago speculators and put it in the farmer’s pocket,” he says. For Ronken, change is the one constant for commodity managers. “I was here when we finished building the plant in 1998,” he says. “We started out producing 12 million gallons per year and now we do 46 million gallons. The technology has advanced so much. In some ways, what we did 16 years ago is totally different than what we do today.” In some ways, though, not much has changed. “For all of the new technology, it’s still about building those relationships with farmers,” says Schroepfer. “Tomorrow, when those phones start ringing and those trucks start arriving, we all know that it comes down to trust and respect. And we treat everyone who comes in with that respect. No matter how big or small the operation, those farmers know that every bushel we buy is as important as the next.”
Commodities Team at POET POET Biorefining – Alexandria Chad Breedlove Christopher Dent Brandon Farley Kimberly Hiatt Brandon LaShure William Musick Wayne Speicher Dean Thurston POET Biorefining – Ashton Terry Cooper Brian Meyer Travis Monier Nancy Nasers Ty Pranger POET Biorefining – Big Stone Roger Findlay Julie Fritz Twila Homan Dale Klemm Richard Maatz Steven Nelson Gregory Nelson Roger Tietjen Justin Wittnebel POET Biorefining – Bingham Lake Steven Johnson Darren Kalvig Blaine Larson Jason Lohrenz Gary Soleta POET Biorefining – Caro Keith Baur Todd Bliss Harlan Browne David Good Adam Kessler John Opperman Michael Osborn Jr Louis Wenzlaff POET Biorefining – Chancellor Donald Adams Jennifer Bertrand James Brandsrud Wesley Harms Tara Hazel Thomas Ireland Joel Kanable Preston Nordman Troy Nordman Steven Norvell Jon Proehl Elden Tunheim 34
THE ESSENTIAL PERSPECTIVE
POET Biorefining – Cloverdale Brian Allen Devan Buis Patrick Gamble James Holderfield David Kean Michelle Mccammack Derek Rossok Mark Sillery Paul Smith Brady Stockwell John Whitkanack POET Biorefining – Coon Rapids Jeff Andersen Roger Baker Elijah Boyd Thomas Cleveland Jason Goodwin Michael Nees Mark Olson Michelle Young POET Biorefining – Corning Shawn Cooper Mark Elwood Jack Myers Clinton O’Riley Polly Sproles Cindy Wall David Wilson Daniel Wood POET Biorefining – Emmetsburg Karen Auten Eric Bruhn Ryan Grange Ryan Jergens LaKrecia Johnson Patricia Kiepe Ron Ludwig Randall Pelzer Jason Raveling Darrel Ruppert BJ Schany Joseph Strohman Todd Thompson Zachery Treiber Jonathan Westfall Lee Wojahn POET Biorefining – Fostoria John Harpster Barry Hoffman Joezette Kloepfer Todd Kromer Thomas Marks Bradley Pope Zeppelin Schindorff Phyllis Willard
POET Biorefining – Glenville Russell Benson Ryan Goodman Rodney Holecek Richard Sande POET Biorefining – Gowrie William Bluml Ryan Carlson Mark Kiefer Kenneth Kopecky Jennifer Rasmussen Julie Roberts Jeffrey Sievers Edward Stewart POET Biorefining – Groton Jon Anderson Jennifer Dirks Rocky Hinman Jesse Huber Derek Kiefer Vicky Smith Gordon Weideman POET Biorefining – Hanlontown Dennis Baker Bryan Clark Kyle McLaughlin Dennis Nicholson Jorgen Paulsen Joseph Rowe Matthew Sauer POET Biorefining – Hudson Jeffrey Hansen Douglas Haverhals Russ Hazel Amanda Homandberg Clifford Huot Jesse Jolin Robert Scroggs Aaron Underwood POET Biorefining – Jewell Stacey Bartels Robert Brown Justin Easterday Jordan Ganeff Mitchell McGonigal Kelli Nevenhoven
POET Biorefining – Laddonia Bradley Callison Aaron Heim Rachel Jurgesmeyer Clint Kendrick Joshua Moll David Rinehart POET Biorefining – Lake Crystal Curtis Ekstrom Michael Felber Kip Hanson Ryan Powell Linda Schroepfer Calvin Tate Rick Wellmann POET Biorefining – Leipsic Scott Bishop Brad Ellerbrock Lorraine Heitmeyer Daniel Karhoff Michael Knueven Jason Rue Aaron Tussing Roger Wenzinger POET Biorefining – Macon William Anderson Jason Basler Lloyd Bowen Nick Cox Matt Gerhold Tracy Roberts Phillip Robidoux POET Biorefining – Marion Cory Cramer Jerry Leydens Duane Mccombs Don Niles Karen Parker Don Sayre Kayla Sharp POET Biorefining – Mitchell Robert Braun Marcia Eidahl Todd Freudenthal Matthew Johnson Austin Koehn Ryan Kuper Jack Sorenson Miranda Synhorst
POET Biorefining – North Manchester Julie Bridgman Matthew Elvidge Steve Freshour Jacob McCoy Joshua Parker Kenneth Parrent Billy Sluss Dawn Straka POET Biorefining – Portland Cliffton Guingrich Brock Hambrock Aaron Kuhn Brian LeMaster Audrey Muhlenkamp Dawn Rodgers Todd Thornburg POET Biorefinig – Preston Michael Graner Tyler Knutson Lance Mensink Loren Ronken Peter Solum POET Research Center Jason Conrad Ryan Kocourek Jim Miller Toby Remmers
E V E RY WO RL D - C H A N G I N G E N D E AVO R S TA RTE D WITH A JOB I N T E RV I E W. MAKE HISTORY. JOIN PROJECT LIBERTY.
PROJECT LIBERTY IS A COMMERCIAL-SCALE, CELLULOSIC ETHANOL PLANT SCHEDULED TO BEGIN OPERATIONS IN EMMETSBURG, IOWA IN EARLY 2014. OPERATIONS WILL CREATE APPROXIMATELY 45 NEW JOBS IN THE REGION.
POET IS SEEKING PIONEERS TO FILL THE FOLLOWING POSITIONS THROUGHOUT 2013: Operations & Maintenance Manager // Plant Merchandiser // Plant Process Engineer Operations & Maintenance Supervisor // Plant Technician // Materials Supervisor // Material Handler Electrician // Fabricator // Plant Engineer
LEARN MORE AT POET-DSM.COM
PROJECT LIBERTY IS THE FIRST PROJECT OF THE POET-DSM ADVANCED HH JOINT VENTURE.
PERSPECTIVE Should the U.S. have a pro-renewable fuels policy? Why?
KATIE SERVER, NEWPORT, R.I. Should the U.S. have a pro-renewable fuels policy? Why? “Yes, having a pro-renewable fuel policy would allow us to explore other avenues for fuel and possibly less dependent crude oil. Using renewable fuels that are here within our own country, we possibly could increase employment opportunities as production demands increase.”
KAREN LONG MACLEOD, WAUKEGAN, ILL. Should the U.S. have a pro-renewable fuels policy? Why? “Yes, the United States should implement policies that promote renewable and sustainable energy. Effective policies with long-term views, according to Thomas Friedman in Hot, Flat and Crowded, encourage companies to invest in and deploy solutions that will meet growing energy demands while preventing catastrophic climate change and loss of biodiversity.”
THE ESSENTIAL PERSPECTIVE
MARKCHRISTOPHER MITERA, CHICAGO, ILL. Should the U.S. have a pro-renewable fuels policy? Why? “It makes perfect sense for the U.S. to have a prorenewable fuels policy. Let’s face it, nothing – with the possible exception of space – is limitless and that goes for such popular energy sources as petroleum and coal. If our government doesn’t start mandating the serious exploration and implementation of alternatives via a policy, future generations of Americans may find themselves the LAST generation of Americans.
JOE WALL, CHARLOTTE, N.C. Should the U.S. have a pro-renewable fuels policy? Why? “I do not think it is prudent for the United States to maintain a strong position on including ethanol as a fuel additive for transportation. While it is a renewable resource per se, subsidy of ethanol raises the price of grains in the U.S. and around the world. This negatively affects the poorest among the communities of the world.” Vital note: The VEETC (ethanol blending tax credit) expired in 2011. Currently, there are not any federal subsidies received by the corn-ethanol industry. “The effect of biofuels on food prices has not been as large as originally thought, but that the use of commodities by financial investors (the so-called ”financialization of commodities”) may have been partly responsible for the 2007/08 spike.” - World Bank, July 2010
PHIL DALE, ROANN, IND.
MELISSA GROBER-MORROW, BIRMINGHAM, ALA. Should the U.S. have a pro-renewable fuels policy? Why? “The United States should have a pro-renewable fuels policy because it will help us remain self-sufficient, and renewable fuels tend to be cleaner than fossil fuels. With the effects of climate change becoming more severe, we need to do what we can to limit greenhouse gas emissions.”
CURT CAMPBELL, WABASH, IND. Should the U.S. have a pro-renewable fuels policy? Why?
Should the U.S. have a pro-renewable fuels policy? Why? As just one example of positive things that have come from the RFS, when I started farming in the 80s, we had surpluses of corn year after year, yet the government paid us for producing it. Now, we can sell all of our corn for a better price in the marketplace, which has been great for corn producers and a better overall situation.”
“Yes, I definitely believe the U.S. should have a prorenewable fuels policy. Probably the biggest reason is that we don’t want to be dependent on the Middle East for our oil supply. But it’s also good for the rural economy, farmers, and the environment. And having renewable fuels available lowers the price of gasoline, by increasing the fuel supply. If not for ethanol, we’d be paying a lot more at the pump.” WWW.VITALBYPOET.COM
DRIVING IT HOME
The Step Up to the Plate campaign rallies encouragement and support for ethanol. by Marcella Prokop
THE ESSENTIAL PERSPECTIVE
The congressional efforts by some representatives to eliminate the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) continue on Capitol Hill. Growth Energy launched their Step Up to the Plate campaign to encourage supporters of renewable fuel and the RFS to reach out to their representatives to keep this important legislation in place. As of mid-September, this campaign alone has brought in more than 50,000 emails, letters and postcards, says Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis. “That doesn’t count all the other efforts, like phone calls and meetings that people who have a stake in ethanol have made, that we can’t track. People realize that you have to ‘step up to the plate’. You have to get engaged.” The reasons for this needed engagement are clear: The EPA has not yet released figures for 2014 RFS guidelines, and this legislation is in jeopardy. From Minnesota to Missouri, and everywhere in between, political and regulatory pressures are threatening the renewable fuels industry. And in Washington, lobbyists from
American Petroleum Institute (API) and others representing the oil industry have ramped up their efforts to repeal the RFS. These issues, while challenging, can be addressed, says POET Biorefining – Macon Board President John Eggleston — if everyday citizens ‘step up to the plate’ and encourage their representatives to support the renewable fuels industry in Congress. “What I have always found in my work in the legislative arena is that you can send in hired guns, and lobbyists, but when you go in there to talk to your own senator, they listen if you can come together as one voice. This issue unfortunately has a lot of emotional concerns, but we can counter that by rallying people and picking up the phone to make our point known to our representatives. They’ll listen.” For Trina Kalvig of Bingham Lake, Minnesota, this desire to “step up to the plate” was born of personal interest in better understanding her husband Darren’s work. Darren is the Commodities Manager at POET Biorefining — Bingham Lake. As she learned more, she says,
informing others and encouraging them to spread the word about the value behind renewable fuels became necessary. “People need to notice where we are in the country, and notice that the more ethanol that’s produced and implemented, the better off we’ll be, in general, because it’s more self-sustaining. [Our representatives] know how hard it is in southwestern Minnesota to earn money, so they have to go to bat for us.” Encouraged by Growth Energy’s outreach campaign, Kalvig is one of several people across the Midwest who rallied community members to send in postcards, write letters or call their representatives. She says at least 75 people from her region joined the effort — a contribution she says is aimed at spreading the positive message about ethanol, and supporting meaningful legislation. “There is really good information out there [about renewable fuels], but there are a lot of negative things too, that aren’t necessarily right. The more we get the word out about the positive, the harder it will be to shove under the carpet.”
For Dave Stokesbary, Mayor of Gowrie, Iowa, reaching out to his representatives means helping his community retain jobs. “We’re a small farm state, and one of the biggest assets we have is our soil and those small business people who call themselves farmers,” he said. “They need options to keep their farms productive and keep them in work and able to take care of their families. Renewable fuels have opened up diversity for them and how they can use their crops.” Like Kalvig, Stokesbary understands what’s at stake: Energy
independence, options at the gas pump and for work, and future development for the renewable fuels industry. He’s written letters to the editor supporting ethanol in hopes that the industry will overcome the policy hurdles it faces, so plants like POET “can do more research and improve what they’re already doing,” something he calls a “winwin” for everyone. While Kalvig and Stokesbary share facts and anecdotes about the positive effects of ethanol on their communities and the environment, Growth Energy members continue taking their message directly to Capitol Hill. Nearly 130 Growth Energy members spent some time in the nation’s capitol during their annual advocacy conference September 8-11. In addition to recognizing representatives like Bill Johnson (R-OH) Bingham Lake, Minnesota and Ron Kind (D-WI)
People need to notice where we are in the country, and notice that the more ethanol that’s produced and implemented, the better off we’ll be, in general, because it’s more self-sustaining.
- Trina Kalvig
THE ESSENTIAL PERSPECTIVE
for their support of the ethanol industry, members spoke with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Senate Agriculture C o m m i t t e e Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Buis explained that he and others also met with officials on Capitol Hill, encouraging them to consider the impact of altering or eradicating the RFS. Congressmen and women have taken notice of their constituents’ knowledge, he said, and they encourage more feedback. “They appreciate hearing from our side. Elected members are really connected to their constituency, and they pay attention to them.” Buis admits that even if some people are skeptical about their power on the Hill, it is still important to send in emails and letters, or make a quick phone call. “If those policy makers and members of Congress don’t know what you’re thinking, don’t assume they can know what’s best for your industry. They need to hear from you. You’re the expert.” A decision regarding the RFS will likely come by year’s end, and citizens who value the domestic jobs and choices provided by the ethanol industry can influence whether or not legislation that supports America’s renewable fuels industry is drafted. All it takes is one letter, one call, one step to drive home the importance of this issue.
GAS PRICES +
IN A NEW NATIONAL POLL, AMERICANS SAID THAT WHEN GAS PRICES GO UP, THEY MAKE SACRIFICES
TAKE FEWER ROAD enjoy FEWER MEALS OUT at TRIPS to visit restaurants friends and family
17% CUT BACK ON CLOTHES shopping
12% SPEND LESS ON GIFTS for birthdays and holidays
BLAME OIL COMPANIES for high gas prices
OIL IS THE PROBLEM. RENEWABLE FUEL IS THE SOLUTION. 73%
THE RENEWABLE FUEL STANDARD,
the policy requiring increasing production of renewable fuel in the U.S.
3 out of 4 people think we
SHOULD HAVE MORE RENEWABLE FUEL OPTIONS at gas stations
Interviews were conducted between June 7th and June 12th, 2013 among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults (18+) nationwide
barometer No Lost Time Accidents
Cow Appreciation Day
POET Biorefining – Alexandria,
POET Biorefining – Caro, Mich. celebrates 9 years without a lost time accident.
Ind. sponsored Cow Appreciation Day at Anderson Motor Speedway in Anderson, Ind. Bill Musick, Commodities Manager, rode the pace car and Ryan Lindeman, Environmental Health & Safety
POET Biorefining – Hudson, SD celebrates 9 years without a lost time accident.
L to R: Bill Musick, Commodities Manager; Marvin Doerstler; Ryan Lindeman, Environmental Health & Safety Specialist; Jessica Lindeman.
Specialist, announced the start of the race.
Jam the Stands
L to R: Nancy Nasers, Grain Buyer/Scale Master; Jolynn Hindt, Controller; Nicole Eddy, Accounting Assistant; Brian Block; Ken Osmonson, General Manager
POET Biorefining – Ashton, Iowa participated in Jam the Stands, an ethanol appreciation night, at the Jackson Motor Speedway in Jackson, Minn. The Ashton team gave out hats, water bottles and pens while informing race fans about the Renewable Fuel Standard.
THE ESSENTIAL PERSPECTIVE
WIT tours POET Biorefining â€“ Hanlontown
During the 2013 Winnebago Itasca Travelers (WIT) Rally, attendees took the chance to visit nearby POET Biorefining â€“ Hanlontown, Iowa. The team at Hanlontown hosted 55 visitors from 19 different states.
barometer POET Biorefining – Mitchell hosts international exchange students International exchange students studying at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D. were able to experience the production process of America’s homegrown fuel, ethanol.
DakotaFest Women DakotaFest Women’s Brunch Committee. POET’s Sally Moody, Controller for POET Biorefining – Mitchell is pictured front center.
The annual DakotaFest was held in Mitchell, S.D. on August 20-22 at the Schlaffman Farm. DakotaFest has displays from equipment to seed plots. The event draws thousands of visitors each day. POET Biorefining – Mitchell partnered with POET Biorefining – Hudson, S.D., POET Research Center, POET Nutrition, and Growth Energy to host a booth at the three day event. POET Biorefining – Mitchell was also a corporate sponsor for the DakotaFest Women’s Brunch. A group of about 400 ladies join together for food, fellowship and inspiration.
Step Up to the Plate
In appreciation of the producers who supply corn to the plant, the team at POET Biorefining – Alexandria, Ind. held an event where producers heard from General Wesley Clark and Growth Energy CEO, Tom Buis. They spoke about supporting the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and rural America. Stepping up to the plate, the Alexandria area sent in over 250 cards to their representatives asking them to support the RFS.
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General Wesley Clark speaks to Alexandria area producers.
TALLY Should the U.S. have a pro renewable fuels policy?
Vital asked readers if they thought the U.S. should have a pro-renewable fuels policy. Here’s what they thought:
To view individual opinions, check out the Perspective on page 36.
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PROJECT LIBERTY UPDATE Near Emmetsburg, IA, a commercial cellulosic plant is starting to take shape. The construction of POET-DSM Advanced Biofuelsâ€™ Project LIBERTY is well underway. With each passing day, the reality of cellulosic ethanol comes closer and closer to existence.
A cooling tower will be formed out of this skeleton-like structure in the near future.
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Itâ€™s not much of a building at this point, but these beams are a good start to the evaporation building.
These footings will support equipment for the production process.
The steel beams that will support the front end of the process are in place. Construction on this part of the plant will continue through the fall.
Concrete foundations and soil correction is taking place for the anaerobic digestion area.
Concrete foundations and soil correction is taking place for the anaerobic digestion area.
The fermentation alley is nearing completion.
When making cellulosic ethanol from corn crop residue, the biomass treatment is a large part of the process. These sections of the plant are where the biomass will be prepped and moved into the production process.
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POET Research Center celebrates 25 years
The ethanol industry has changed a bit since POET Research Center made its debut in 1988. Twenty-five years later, the first POET plant is still going strong and brings many firsts to POET and the ethanol industry. Home to POET’s pilot cellulosic facility, the plant in Scotland has helped optimize the technology that will soon be ramped up at POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels commercial cellulosic facility, Project LIBERTY in Emmetsburg, IA. To celebrate the milestone, the POET Research Center team hosted a brunch for the Scotland, S.D. community during Rodeo Days in August. Jeff Broin, Founder and Executive Chairman for POET, and also, the first General Manager at POET Research, reminisced with the group on the opening of the plant and the difference it has made in the landscape of the industry. Jeff Broin speaks to the group at the anniversary celebration.
The Scotland, S.D. community turned out to support POET Research Center’s 25 year anniversary.
NASCAR driver Austin Dillon makes a tour stop at POET Biorefining – Portland
Matt Clamme, Technical Manager and Shellie Rodgers, Scale House Operator discuss ethanol with Austin Dillon at POET Biorefining – Portland.
NASCAR Nationwide Series™ driver, Austin Dillon stopped by POET Biorefining – Portland, Ind. this summer during an American Ethanol road trip between races. After finishing third at Chicagoland Speedway, Dillon hit the road in a flex fuel vehicle on his way to the Eldora race. He took a little detour to say hello to the team members in Portland and thank them for their sponsorship support with one of his main sponsors, American Ethanol.
Austin Dillon signs autographs for young NASCAR fans.
renew Operation Timber Strike
The ground debris is ready for the solid fuel boiler.
On April 17, 2013, Southeast South Dakota was ravaged by an ice storm. The storm knocked down thousands of utility poles and trees causing power outages, structural damage to many buildings and road blockages. The City of Sioux Falls, S.D. set to work on clean-up – dubbed Operation Timber Strike. Initial clean up estimates included over 100,000 tons of wood debris headed for the Sioux Falls Regional Sanitary Landfill (SFRSL). The SFRSL is utilized by over 240,000 citizens in the Sioux Falls area and brings in approximately 700-800 tons per day of municipal waste and construction/demolition debris. The storm debris would have the same impact on the landfill as 125 days of normal garbage deliveries. The partnership between the City of Sioux Falls and POET Biorefining – Chancellor, S.D. was about to be strengthened. The two businesses already work together to collect methanol gas from the landfill that is piped to the ethanol plant and used in a solid fuel boiler to produce steam to power the plant. The plant was the perfect fit to help out with Operation Timber Strike – the solid fuel boiler also utilizes waste wood! In September, Chancellor finally started receiving wood debris from the April storm. It’s a long road to collect, grind, screen (for dirt and debris) and transport over 50,000 tons of wood (final estimates after collection and grind process). The wood is being delivered to Chancellor at 1000 tons per week, where it is producing about 50,000 lbs/hr of steam and offsetting 65 MMBTU/hr of natural gas! POET Biorefining – Chancellor will continue to receive wood from Operation Timber Strike for the next year.
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Apples for all POET Biorefining – Groton, S.D. has always tried to be a good steward to the land the plant occupies. Since it was built in 2003, POET Biorefining – Groton has been a part of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and has reserved a piece of their property for their area pheasants. The POET team as well as a board member and his son have been planting trees on the property over the last several years. The property now includes a shelterbelt and several apple trees. The administration office area boasts 5 apple trees with another 20 or so located in the shelter belt. This year, the trees are just loaded with apples. It’s not an uncommon sight to see a team member stroll past the tree for an afternoon snack. It also provides apples enough for apple crisp, apple pie and other delicious sweets. The CRP land has had a positive impact on the pheasant community, the land and the POET Biorefining – Groton team.
Honoring a hero
Kelly Hansen, General Manager, recognizes Matt Jackson, Maintenance Technician, for his heroic actions.
When Matt Jackson, Maintenance Technician for POET Biorefining – Glenville, Minn., found a fellow team member laying on the floor not breathing, his safety training kicked in. He immediately performed the Heimlich dislodging an item from the team member’s throat, saving his life. An event was held to honor Matt and his heroic actions. “He just clearly understands what needs to be done,” POET Biorefining – Glenville General Manager Kelly Hansen said to KIMT TV. “Well, in this case, Matt recognized a need and met it. And he did it just like he normally does his regular job.”
Summer Fitness Challenge Thirteen employees from POET Biorefining – Hanlontown, Iowa participated in the Summer Fitness Challenge from June 1 through August 31, 2013. Participants had to track their miles, activities and weight loss during the 13 week challenge. The 13 employees logged over 5000 miles. Chief Mechancial Operator, Bruce Moore recorded the most miles (630!) and lost the most weight. The Challenge culminated with the Seawall to Seawall Run in Clear Lake, Iowa on August 31. Participants, friends and family members were given the option to run a half marathon, 10K or 5K. General Manger, Kelly Hansen ran the half marathon; Bill Enderson, Bruce Moore, Paul Quintero, Joe Rowe and Paulette Rueter ran the 10K; and Staci Herrera, Matt Sauer and Paul Wagner ran the 5K.
Back row: Joe Rowe, Paul Wagner, Matt Sauer; Front Row: Paul Quintero, Staci Herrera, Bill Enderson, Paulette Rueter, Marjorie Quintero, Bruce Moore
A Passion for Ethanol After moving from an oil-and-gas state, POET’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Corporate Affairs quickly adapted by Steve Lange | photo by Greg Latza to the culture of the ethanol industry.
When Kyle Gilley took the job as POET’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Corporate Affairs, he knew he was in for a major career – and cultural – change. A lifelong Texan, Gilley still lived within 20 minutes of the Fort Worth-area home he’d grown up in. He had never seen snow that lasted “more than a day or two.” He was moving from an oil-and-gas state to a job in the ethanol industry. Within a few months of his hire, though, Gilley had adopted his new Sioux Falls community (“The work ethic and culture of the people in this community is phenomenal”) and weathered his first snowstorm (“I texted [POET President and CEO] Jeff Lautt and said ‘I don’t remember this being in the recruiting package’”). Most importantly, he quickly recognized and embraced the culture that comes with working in the biofuels industry, and POET in particular. “People told me that working at POET becomes more about a passion or a cause than it becomes about a profession or a company, and I just thought, ‘Yeah, right,’” Gilley says. “But I will tell you, by my first month on the job, I understood just what they meant.” Which is exactly what Jeff Lautt expected when
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he hired the guy he describes as “strategic-minded and action-oriented” and “a very collaborative communicator.” “Sure, Kyle has a strong background in working with Congress, working in administration, and providing strategy and public policy,” says Lautt. “But more than that, we knew he’d be an excellent cultural fit for POET, and he definitely has been. He’s done so much for us already.” And, Lautt says, POET has done something for Gilley as well. “We moved him from an oil state to an ethanol state,” Lautt says. “So I guess you could say that we brought him over to the good side.”
You’re from Texas? kyle: Born and raised in Fort Worth. The house that we sold when we moved to Sioux Falls is about twenty minutes away from the house I grew up in and my mom still lives in. My wife [Tammi] grew up in a suburb of Dallas.
Oh, no. Are you a Cowboys fan? kyle: No, I’m a Baylor grad and a Baylor [Bears] football fan. I was at every game as a student and a season ticket holder for a number of years. How was that first winter here [Gilley was hired in July 2012]? kyle: The winter wasn’t so bad, it was the spring. When you have big snowfalls in April and May, that’s when it hit us that this was a very different climate than Texas. Were you interested in political dealings at a young age? kyle: Yes. I had family members who were involved in local political offices. There were political connections in my community. I was involved in student government and in elected offices in my fraternity. After I graduated I got involved with the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and that really opened the door to public policy. I realized that was my career path. Jeff Lautt described you as “a strategic thinker.” kyle: I listen and get as many perspectives as I can and then craft a workable solution to whatever the problem is. ... Am I an analytical guy or a gut guy? I go more with the gut. I never depend on a piece of paper or analytics to make the decision for me. How did you propose to Tammi? kyle: I proposed by a creek in Salado, Texas. She wasn’t expecting it. And she said yes? kyle: Thankfully. What is your son [Jack, age 11] into? kyle: My son is into chess and origami and Bakugan and that stuff. He’s into hobbies and collecting things. Great kid. Can he beat you in chess? kyle: I don’t play, so yes. It doesn’t take long after talking to POET people to feel that ethanol could change the world. kyle: It can. It is. We are making a difference. I don’t care if I’m visiting Leipsic, Ohio, or Marion, Ohio, or Emmetsburg, Iowa, you pull into these communities and you see the difference, just in terms of jobs and tax base and activity. You see it from a national perspective, where we have become 10 percent of the nation’s fuel supply.
Is cellulosic ethanol an easier sell? kyle: Listen, it’s always easier to sell something when it’s not quite fully developed, because it’s just a competitive threat, not a competitive reality. What’s causing the focus on corn ethanol is that it’s a reality. It competes at a lower price, so that’s why so much focus has been on capping it at 10 percent, on not letting it grow, on not opening the markets. ... Make no mistake, as soon as we’ve bolted on these cellulosic plants to starch plants and that begins to scale up, that won’t be any easier to sell because it then becomes a competitive reality. Some will say that’s part of the reason why the fight is so intense right now, because critics see things like [Project] LIBERTY and Abengoa’s plant in Kansas and the DuPont plant in Iowa, and they know that as soon as those plants come online then those critics lose their leverage. Were you, by geography, a big oil guy in Texas? kyle: I never directly worked for the oil industry, but if you grew up in Texas, you were an oil and gas guy. I mean, I grew up watching “Dallas.” When it came to your leadership style, Jeff Lautt guessed that you’re “like that father that doesn’t need to speak to know he’s serious.” kyle: I’m not a big rah rah or bang my fist on a table kind of guy. I’m direct. Tell me about your public policy team. kyle: It’s a team I’m really proud of. I inherited an incumbent Vice President of Corporate Affairs. He serves as the glue for the rest of the team. His energy for the industry and knowledge base provide invaluable insight. My first outside hire was my PAC manager, and the energy and the organization that she’s brought to our pack is a critically important tool for us …. I promoted someone on the team to community engagement, because I wasn’t happy with the knowledge base and the engagement in the local communities where we have biorefineries. ... That has paid off. For the first time POET has a full-time employee in Washington, which has benefitted us at a very critical point. All of that is capped off by a new coordinator who provides an invaluable benefit supporting our overall team.... Their work ethic and enthusiasm for the cause is phenomenal. None of them had ethanol experience previously, but, like me, they bought in pretty quick.
CONUNDRUM ACROSS 1. Hula go-with 5. Wood cutters 9. Writer Asimov 14. A deadly sin 15. Award for TV commercials 16. Drug dealer 17. Cake finisher 18. Paper money of Cambodia 19. Tested 20. Some are seeking a waiver of this standard 23. In the thick of 24. Be situated 25. Speedy waters 29. Top 40 song 30. Dogma 33. Organic compound containing the CONH2 group 31. Central American mammal
36. Pocket problem
37. The tariff on this expired in 2011
1. Prince, e.g.
40. Kite part
2. A long time ago
35. Enthusiastic poetry
41. Pay attention to
3. Baker’s need
36. Saintly glow
42. Top people
4. Combustible heap
43. Hill dweller
44. Be mistaken
6. CSI accused’s defense
45. Clara Bow hat
45. Type of tie
46. What a pirate might say
47. Garden figure
49. New POET biorefinery product
10. Outer Indian garment
48. Sun-dried brick
49. Pessimist’s word
57. Inside info
12. Royal flush card
50. Work of art
58. Stir up
13. New England catch
59. Fireplace implements
21. Certain bird
52. Hawkeye state
60. Rounded knob
22. Bat an eye?
53. Seed used for flavoring
61. Hole-making tools
25. New Delhi salad
54. Not mentioned
62. Night fliers
26. Jordan city
55. 24-hr. banking convenience
27. Small songbird
56. Try to gain the support
64. New Haven school
28. Teen fave
34. Kind of prize
29. Worked the soil 30. Greek style
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FROM THE HEARTLAND by Marcus Ludtke
Doggone-It I’ll never forget the day my wife and I decided to officially expand the family to “three’s company” status. Our boys had been begging us for a brother. Naturally, the Mrs. and I were skeptical of disrupting the Jedi-like balance to our homestead, which currently allowed us to play an aggressive Man-to-Man defense when necessary as opposed to a more generic Bend but Don’t Break/ Cover 3-type coverage. We were also not immune from some well-meaning, yet unsolicited parental advice from friends who were currently in the process of attempting to fortify all few remaining strongholds from the advance of what were often described as an army of gnome-sized enemy combatants. Exhausted and outnumbered, these vigilant moms and dads typically ended such conversations with some vague reference to Shakespeare’s famous quote “the better part of valor is discretion.” Clearly then, the choice was obvious. We needed to make an emotional and irrational decision as quickly as possible. Less than 6 weeks later Jordi, Griffin, Tanner and I welcomed home our newest addition, Rutt Aurelius Ludtke. Getting a dog was arguably the biggest (and riskiest) decision my wife and I had ever made. I had always been the most vocal advocate in our marriage for getting a dog. I was also well aware there weren’t many dogs that came with 30-day warranties. This invariably meant that if this didn’t end well there was a better than average chance that the dog and I could possibly be sharing a similar fate in the yet unreleased sequel to Old Yeller. Taking all of this into consideration, I was given specific instructions as to what type of canine would be acceptable. An RFP was issued for a fourlegged, domesticated animal that didn’t shed, bark, or bite. Furthermore, a dog that slept often, didn’t weigh more than 40 pounds when fully mature, and had a maximum life expectancy of less than 10 years would all be considered additional bonuses. Naturally, I started searching the Internet for dogs that met the aforementioned criteria. The first two websites I was redirected to consisted of a taxidermist and a porcelain
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dog manufacturer. I was undeterred. However, it was actually my wife who eventually located a miniature bulldog breeder in Jordan, Minn., and before any minds could be changed, Rutt had been identified and chosen by our two boys to be my third, adopted son. We are currently four months into life with Rutt and I’m happy to report there has only been one “official” night where I was left negotiating potential sign-andtrade deals that included one miniature bulldog along with various cash incentives in exchange for serenity now. That said, the reality is once we got past bagging and tagging Rutt’s immense daily carbon footprint (emissions trading will be necessary as he gets older) life with Thing 3 has been a fairly entertaining and enjoyable ride. That’s not to say I haven’t swallowed hard at some of the fine print costs associated with owning a dog including obedience school, an invisible fence, one run to the pet ER for owner incompetence (guess who) and weekend pet resort stays. All-in-all the investment’s been well worth it. And doggone-it, I think even the Mrs. would admit Rutt’s managed to dig his way into her heart.
Marcus Ludtke graduated from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn., in 2001 and started working for POET Risk Management in May of that year. His primary responsibilities include managing POET’s corn position and market research.
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