Vital Magazine - Winter 2021

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WINTER 2021

THE SUN, THE SOIL AND THE SEED POET releases inaugural sustainability report vitalbypoet.com | 1



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Vital magazine is a news and media resource managed by POET, the world’s largest producer of biofuels. Since 2007, Vital has provided readers with forward-thinking content that helps to advance an industry that provides renewable energy and bio-based products from the surface of the earth. Vital seeks to educate readers about the state of the biofuels sector today and the breakthrough stories of innovation and sustainability of tomorrow by presenting a variety of perspectives and insight. Each issue features in-depth, quality reporting on important topics, such as the fight against the climate crisis, innovation in agriculture, local and national policy landscapes and stories of the men and women advocating to advance bioethanol and other renewable bioproducts. Vital by POET is committed to editorial excellence, along with high quality print production and distribution. In the spirit of its continued commitment to being good stewards of the environment, POET is proud to produce Vital using 100% recycled paper when printed. Additional reporting can be found online at vitalbypoet.com. 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.

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To Subscribe Visit vitalbypoet.com to receive a digital magazine Vital is published quarterly by POET, LLC and other individuals or entities. All materials within are subject to copyrights owned by POET. POET, JIVE, Dakota Gold, BPX, ProPellet and other associated designs and logos are registrations or trademarks of POET, LLC. Growth Energy is a registration or trademark of Growth Energy, a non-profit corporation organized under the laws of the District of Columbia. 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. ©2021 POET, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Contents FEATURES

COLUMNS

08 | Iowa Innovators

06 | In Sight

POET Bioprocessing – Shell Rock shares entrepreneurial spirit

By Jeff Broin

20 | Cycles of Life A look at the life cycles and relationship of carbon and corn

30 | The Sun, the Soil and the Seed

Automotive advice from the Under the Hood radio show

40 | Farm Fresh By Adam Wirt

POET releases inaugural sustainability report

58 | Out Of Left Field

42 | Pure Results

By Scott Johnson

Study shows POET purified alcohol significantly better for environment

DEPARTMENTS

50 | Sustainability Across

16 | Get Biofuel

POET’s Footprint An inside look into a few of POET’s sustainable initiatives

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18 | Mechanics Corner

VITAL

26 | POET PAC 48 | Policy Corner


Bottom Left: POET Bioprocessing – Shell Rock | Bottom Right: Engineers Ty Schoellerman and Joseph Fuhr work on the steam turbine engines at POET Bioprocessing – Hudson

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IN SIGHT

The Rhythm of Nature By Jeff Broin, Founder and CEO of POET

The Earth was made to thrive in natural rhythm, like music — or poetry. But we have taken too much from our planet for too long, and it’s only a matter of time before the effects of our actions become irreversible. That’s why we’re working every day to restore harmony between human and nature. Sustainability is not a new concept here at POET. It has always been at the heart of our business and the core to our success. Our commitment is brought to life by the suite of Earth-friendly products we’ve created, the dedication of our team members and the economic viability and wellbeing of the communities we call home. This is why POET is proud to announce the release of our first sustainability report. Since POET’s founding, we’ve made improving the environment part of our mission. Today we are taking on climate action on many fronts, including updating our sustainability goals and pursuing policy that helps consumers reduce their everyday environmental impact by expanding access to cleaner, lowercarbon biofuel blends across the nation. The intent of this report is to truly challenge ourselves to focus on key areas where we can do better. We’re setting the bar high to ensure a sustainable future for all.

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We are investing in the latest biotechnology to promote efficiency and produce even cleaner renewable energy. We are continually diversifying our business to meet worldwide needs, creating plant-based bioproducts that displace toxic petrochemicals. We are working toward producing more bioethanol made from low-carbon grain by partnering with farmers throughout our footprint who are leading the way in regenerative agricultural practices. Part of POET’s mission is giving back — both in Midwestern communities that have joined us in our mission and in developing countries all over the world. Whether it’s through our time, our resources or our hands-on involvement, we hope to have lasting positive impacts — not just at home, but across the globe. Simply put, our products and — perhaps most importantly — our people are making the world a better place. And we’re just getting started. Our experience over the past three decades has proven that sound corporate stewardship and world-class environmental performance are fundamentals of good business. By outlining our vision for sustainability, we aim not only to position POET for long-term success, but to blaze a trail in the global transition to decarbonization. Make no mistake — we are at a tipping point. We are seeing the effects of climate change more every day. Right now, the world needs leaders to lead and innovators to innovate. At POET, we believe in the power of agriculture to play a key role in solving global challenges. We believe in embracing Earth’s inherent rhythm and harvesting energy from its surface to compose a brighter future. We believe in a world where farmers are the creators and innovators are the heroes. Just as a poet turns ordinary words into extraordinary prose, we will continue to use the simple gifts God has provided — the sun, the soil and the seed — to cultivate a better world for generations to come.

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PLANTS OF POET

Iowa Innovators POET Bioprocessing – Shell Rock shares entrepreneurial spirit By Susanne Retka Schill At POET Bioprocessing – Shell Rock (Iowa), the leadership team brings a combined 60 years of experience to the challenge of innovating for efficiency. Kristin Clay, General Manager, Corey Williams, Maintenance Manager, and Ryan Cummings, Operations Manager, all started out at the plant in its first year of operations, and Nick Phillips, Environmental Health and Safety Manager, joined three years later. Cummings started working at the plant shortly after startup by Hawkeye Renewables in late 2008. He moved over from a nearby sister plant at Fairbank, Iowa, where Cummings began work as an entry level, load out operator. He moved inside to become a cook operator and worked his way through multiple areas of the plant — distillation, the energy center, utilities, shift lead, materials manager — accumulating the experience he now taps into as operations manager.

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Shell Rock Team, Corey Williams, Maintenance Manager, Ryan Cummings, Operations Manager, Nick Phillips, Environmental Health and Safety Manager, and Kristin Clay, General Manager

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“Back when we started, it was all about gallons out the door,” Cummings recalls. “As the margin got narrower, we focused on making our distillers grains a good product that customers wanted over soybean meal. Then we worked into corn oil technology and moved on to NexPro high-protein feed. We took a plant making only bioethanol and transformed it almost into a feedmill.” “We now call ourselves a bioprocessing facility,” adds General Manager Clay.

“Our goal is to get as much value as possible out of every kernel of corn to help feed and fuel the world with our bioproducts and do it while being good stewards of the earth.” Kristin Clay, General Manager

The 50-member team at POET Bioprocessing – Shell Rock produces approximately 130 million gallons of bioethanol, 220,000 tons of distillers grains, five million gallons of distillers corn oil (37 million pounds) and 75 tons of NexPro every year. The newest addition to the feed product line, NexPro, is a consistent 50% protein product, compared to the standard DDGS with protein in the 24-30% range. “We ship it worldwide where it gets used as a feed for multiple species,” Clay says. “But the coolest is its use in aquaculture around the world.” Clay never thought she’d apply her science degree in her hometown in northeastern Iowa, but not long after the plant started up she learned they had an opening for a quality manager. When Flint Hills Resources (FHR) acquired the plant in 2011, she began managing quality assurance at FHR’s six plants. This summer, when POET acquired the group, she stepped up to take on the General Manager’s role at Shell Rock. She’s pleased to broaden her knowledge from her previous focus on process and operations to include the business side and to return to a sole focus on her home base at Shell Rock. “The team here at Shell Rock is our greatest asset, and I view it as a privilege to be able to lead that team with the support of the larger POET network,” she says. Williams, Maintenance Manager, also started at Shell Rock during the first year of operations. “When we first started, this was a pretty new business, and we had new equipment. As we’ve evolved, we’ve changed our maintenance program,” he says. Ongoing training brought a lot of the work in-house that used to go to third party contractors, he says, reducing cost and improving reliability. “My philosophy is if we do the work ourselves, we have more pride,” Williams says. “It’s been a benefit to the plant over the years.” The team does in-house vibration analysis, infrared scans, ultrasound and has begun adding wireless sensors that enable 24-hour analysis instead of having a person collecting data on each piece of equipment. Phillips joined the Shell Rock team in 2011, working to define and develop the environmental, health and safety (EHS) programs. “We’ve really matured in EHS programs over the past 10 years to where they are truly integrated business systems,” he says. “We’re not perfect, but we’ve done a good job in making all 50 people at the site be responsible for EHS rather than just one person. I may oversee the program, but everyone owns EHS at Shell Rock.” Right: Kristin Clay’s team working on site at Shell Rock — Bioprocessing

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David Cotten, General Manager at POET Bioprocessing – Fairmont vitalbypoet.com | 1 3


Nick Phillips, Environmental Health and Safety Manager works with drone

Inspections and safety took a big step forward when a confined space drone was added to the tool kit, and several team members became FAA certified drone pilots. “You don’t have to have somebody climbing into dangerous equipment, and you don’t need a watch and rescue team,” Phillips says. “It really saves time. We can do all the cyclone inspections in about two hours, compared to a half hour each if you have to climb into everything.” The team takes pride in other innovations employed at the bioprocessing facility. “We made our own DDG tube, brought a yardmaster here for rail innovation and designed our own buckets that allowed us to pick up our corn pile more efficiently,” Cummings says. “Shell Rock figures out stuff on our own and brings in innovation wherever possible.” Willing to share their innovations as they join the POET family, the Shell Rock team also appreciates being part of a larger network. Williams says POET’s Regional Engineer, Bill Miller, has been very responsive in finding resources to help manage maintenance issues. On the operations side, Cummings has seen a step up in merchandising. “POET has a big network of customers, which really helps us to move product,” he says. And for Clay, becoming part of a 33-facility network is an asset. “Being part of the POET team has allowed us to tap into a much larger resource,” Clay says. “When we have problems or issues, we can reach out to ask questions, and when we learn something we can also share that.”

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Providing Technologies that Bring More than Food to the Table Our processes and equipment contribute to thousands of products people use every day...from immune-boosting juices to the wine we drink in celebration. Even the condiments on our burgers, the cheese on our sandwiches and the vegetables that nourish us are processed with GEA equipment. Going beyond food, GEA solutions are put to use in power plants, on all types of boats and in water treatment plants. What’s more, sustainability and environmental conservation are key in each and every process we develop. That’s why our commitment to provide the separating technology required to produce renewable biofuels and agricultural co-products is as strong as ever. To learn more about GEA’s centrifuges and separation equipment and the industries we serve, email us at sales.unitedstates@gea.com, call 800-722-6622, or visit us online at gea.com.


GET BIOFUEL

BATTLEFIELD Public Opinion By Ryan Welsh, Director of Sales & Marketing / Growth Energy Throughout history the importance of public opinion has shown to be a linchpin of consequence. Abraham Lincoln stated, “Public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed.” He added, “The power goes to those who mold it.” It is a great quote and very true, but today has a lot more variables than before. On many issues the public does not have fully formed and clear views. Not that there is anything wrong with the public. In a democracy, citizens are typically more concerned with some matters than others which leads to their level of engagement, and these days the noise level is deafening. Too recently at home, we all have witnessed a growing battle of public opinion that has no boundaries and absorbs almost everyone in its path. Our industry is no exception, once being the darling of the liquid fuels space, we became a lightning rod when running into a storm of myths and misinformation planted in the field of public opinion. We became very aware that our growing market share illuminated us as enemy of the old guard. These days we have a wealth of channels at our fingertips to mold and consume public opinion. Media moguls, socialites, athletes and actors all have an opinion and a following on social platforms. Social media networks, communities and influencers shape the way their followers think and act about issues and products. Some don’t even let truth get in the way of a good story. The difference between a truth and a “good” story? Here is a truth: Bioethanol can lower emissions right now by 46% compared to gasoline by just filling up with E15. Here is a “good” story: Electric cars are the immediate answer, they emit zero emissions. In this example, our truth has scientific fact behind it, while the story is just an aspiration. Anyone reading this column should know that the production of car parts and electricity — depending on where they get it — produces a lot of emissions, but the influencer sharing this story may not know, not care or may believe the end justifies the means. Our philosophy since the beginning of Growth Energy is “truth will win and we will speak truth to power.” When we assemble a team to speak on the behalf of biofuels, we demand the same. Our performance team is a cross section of powerful influencers and third-party validators that can speak our message. The message that once focused on octane and high performance has also fit right into the climate conversation. Now “regenerate,” “sustainability” and “carbon neutrality” are descriptions we use when discussing the benefits of bioethanol along with being a highperformance biofuel under the most extreme conditions. Going forward in this column, we will not focus only on NASCAR and the success we continue sharing in the sport. We are going to highlight our entire performance team’s work from coast to coast. Austin Dillon in the #3 Get Bioethanol Chevrolet will continue battling for us on and off the track. Ryan Bader, Logan Storley, Darrion Caldwell, Michael Chandler and Joseph Benavidez will continue dawning our colors in the MMA fight space. Don Onken and the American Ethanol Mystic will continue on the water for us after just bringing home the 7th Lake of the Ozarks Shootout Championship. Tractor pullers from Illinois, truck pullers from South Dakota, fishermen from Missouri and many more supporters will be able to share their own accomplishments and factbased stories in our combined relentless pursuit to promote low carbon fuels.

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Photo curiosity of Speedboat Magazine

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MECHANIC’S CORNER

Caring for Your Car with Sustainable Biofuel Russ Evans, Under the Hood Radio Show Host and Mechanic The world is rapidly changing around us, and as provider of everything automotive, we can tell you that the automotive world is not unaffected by the advancements. People are spending more on older vehicles and repairing issues that would have condemned a car to sale or the crusher just a few months ago. They are also much more concerned about their vehicle’s maintenance so that they can preserve it longer. Similarly, when people realize their own bodies won’t last forever, they work harder to care for them and give them the good fuel necessary to be kept in their best condition. If you are a regular listener to our radio show or have read our past columns, you know that we are busy every day in our shop providing both service and parts for vehicles and fielding questions about them. We have a variety of customers, from people who don’t care about their car and just want to drive it, to the ones who know all the details of their vehicles. When the subject of vehicle maintenance comes up, the question of when a tune-up is due and what goes into a tune-up is discussed. A tune-up today takes far less than in the past and sometimes is as simple as an air filter and a fuel system cleaning. This often leads to a direct question about fuels. A few common questions usually come up: “I use bioethanol in my car, will it keep it cleaner?” or “Do I have to clean my fuel system since I use bioethanol?” Misinformation about biofuels prompts questions about its use in vehicles. The truth is, no matter what fuel you use, an engine still needs some care in the form of fuel system cleaning, but we find they are not as dirty when using renewable, cleaner burning biofuels like bioethanol. For example, watching the bioethanol candles burn under the food at a buffet, you can see just how clean bioethanol is. If they were to use gasoline, the room would quickly take on a smoky atmosphere. After many discussions with customers about fueling their cars, we have had several opportunities to talk in more detail about why they chose to use bioethanol in the first place. While many say they first started using it because it was the lowest cost choice at the pump, and it worked well, others said it was because it was renewable and sustainable. In an area powered by an agricultural economy, it’s not surprising that people are choosing plant-based fuels. Just like natural foods for people, natural, sustainable biofuel for cars is becoming more popular. The Under The Hood radio show is America’s Favorite Car-talk show heard on over 250 stations, YouTube and podcast. The Motor Medics, Russ, Chris and Shannon, are three great friends having fun and offering a wide range of automotive advice.

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FEATURE

Cycles of Life A look at the life cycles and relationship of carbon and corn By Erin Smith Sunrises and sunsets, phases of the moon, seasons changing. So many aspects of nature are cyclical, as life itself goes through sequences of change and growth. The lifecycle of a single ear of corn follows this pattern of renewability in a predictable manner which contributes to a cleaner environment. It will not come as a shock to farmers to hear that more organic soil matter and higher carbon levels in soil grows better crops. For the rest of us, that might be a different story. A logical follow-up question that could be posed by the less informed could be, “If carbon is bad for the atmosphere and good for the soil, how do we move it from one to the other?” In this, farmers are one step ahead of the rest of us, and the answer is simpler than you might think: grow corn. Through photosynthesis — the process by which plants use sunlight, water and atmospheric carbon dioxide to create oxygen and energy in the form of carbohydrates (sugar) — corn not only produces a tremendous amount of grain protein and energy, it also adds an astounding amount of carbon-rich root and plant residue to the soil. According to the University of Minnesota Extension Office, more organic carbon compounds are added to soil each year than are lost due to soil organic carbon decomposition. Carbon balance is regulated by tilling, and this “positive” crop/soil carbon balance means that growing corn results in atmospheric carbon dioxide removal and its addition into the soil — commonly called soil carbon sequestration — and is enhanced if the intensity of tillage is minimal. Ron Alverson, a retired farmer and an expert in precision farming, bioethanol and corn production works to educate environmental agencies, legislators and farmers about the benefits of corn, conservation practices and precision farming. “When soil organic matter increases in fields, it locks carbon into soil as long as you continue to manage crop production in the same way and yields are maintained. For farmers implementing reduced till and producing high corn yields, their soil organic matter just continues to build. It takes carbon out of the atmosphere and sequesters it into the soil, which is really good for our atmosphere, but also for our fields and crops. Soils high in organic matter hold more water and nutrients and thus are more productive.” This is the basis of precision farming. Scientists and farmers working together to find effective and efficient ways to increase both crop yields and protect and improve the environment.

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“Precision farming is precision application of nutrients,” said Alverson. “We put them where they’re needed, when they’re needed and at the proper rates. It helps reduce farming’s carbon footprint if we don’t waste tools like fertilizers and have them work to the best of their capabilities for our benefit and the benefit of the planet.” However, the road to a lower carbon intensity (CI) score for farmers has not always been a smooth, easy one. Right now, the U.S. Midwest receives one, average CI score. This current system makes it impossible for farmers implementing precision, low-carbon crop production management practices to receive incentives to continue and enhance their efforts. Currently, the California and Oregon Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) programs use versions of the U. S. Department of Energy GREET (greenhouse gases, regulated emissions and energy use in technologies) model to determine biofuel CI scores. As helpful and accurate as this model is, if scientists don’t take into consideration all that farmers are currently doing, some CI scores could potentially appear higher than their true value. Education is the first step toward change. For Alverson, who began researching lowcarbon solutions in farming before there were any financial incentives to implement the changes necessary, showing the disadvantages of a “Midwest average” CI score was incredibly important. “I became interested in precision agriculture long before the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard first started. But the LCFS could provide even more opportunity and incentives to implement precision farming technology. We realized the Midwest average CI score was inaccurate and to take such a vast area as a whole penalizes those who are trying to be more environmentally conscious.” For example, in biofuel feedstock production and transportation, many models assume farmers do not use biofuels in their trucks and vehicles. Since many do utilize biofuels as an economical and low-carbon way to

power their equipment, this is a simple, straightforward solution to lowering carbon emissions and their CI score. Another solution is precision nitrogen fertilizer usage; when done correctly, precision placement, timing and rate of fertilizer significantly lowers nitrous oxide emissions. Often, when the CI score for farming is calculated, models assume corn growth and tillage practices have no beneficial environmental impact on soil carbon stocks. Corn producers are not penalized, but they are also not credited with carbon sequestration solutions. “Properly structured low-carbon fuel programs can reward all participants in the biofuel production cycle,” said Alverson. “Many bioethanol producers put forth a lot of effort to reduce their CI score. If legislators were to incentivize corn producers for climate-smart agriculture, we can make a dent in carbon, and we can make a difference for the environment.

“The whole process helps the Midwest — and the country as a whole — both in lowering carbon in the atmosphere, improving soil productivity and adding to our economies.” Ron Alverson, Farmer

While farmers are working towards lowering their CI scores, they are looking for consumers who are also interested in conservation. Recently POET, Farmers Business Network and Argonne National Laboratory partnered to run a test pilot program called Gradable. Gradable is a voluntary, farmer-led platform that matches farmers who use environmentally friendly practices with buyers who pay a premium for low-carbon corn. Gradable focuses on using proven science to measure the benefits of conservation practices used by farmers on their land.

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This past year, POET tested the Gradable platform at their facility in Chancellor, S.D. More than 60 farms participated, covering around 126,000 acres. Farmers were able to use the data to see how it could improve their profitability. Farmers produced the same yield as normal, but had lower carbon emission — 84% of the farms performed better than the national average farm CI scores. The analysis showed that all farms had the potential to lower their CI scores and that Gradable provides the opportunity for farmers to realize additional financial value from sales of low-carbon grain in the future. Precision agriculture and carbon sequestration are a few of the ways that farmers are combating climate change, while at the same time improving yields and adding to rural economies. By implementing carbon reducing strategies to their farm and selling to consumers who are interested in low-carbon corn, farmers are doing their part to fight the climate crisis the world is facing. The moment a corn seed enters the ground a cycle begins. A cycle of life and of giving back to the Earth that provided the nutrients and protection needed to grow. Farmers and scientists working and innovating together have enhanced a cycle created by nature in order to create a sequence that not only provides fuel, fiber and feed, but one that actually takes carbon out of the atmosphere and returns it into the ground. One of the most significant solutions to climate change comes from the humble beginnings of a corn seed and a farmer in a field.

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Where Producers Meet

SAVE THE DATE

MINNEAPOLIS 2022 June 13-15 38th ANNUAL

FuelEthanolWorkshop.com Produced By

866-746-8385 | service@bbiinternational.com |

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POET PAC

What You Need to Know About POET PAC By Erin Smith POET’s Political Action Committee (PAC) functions to advance the interests of its members. Primarily, this is done by educating legislators and regulators on the benefits of biofuels and supporting industry champions in Washington D.C. Supporting Those Who Support Us Policies and legislation passed in Congress impact the biofuels and agriculture industries. POET PAC invests in leaders who will champion our cause in Washington D.C. We help keep congressional seats in the hands of biofuel and agriculture supporters, counter the influence of legislators who support our competitors and influence the conversations being had about the future of our industries and our nation. POET PAC strives for equal disbursement of funds to both major political parties. As our industries are bipartisan, the POET PAC works to be as well and uses thoughtful long-term decision making to help insure the future of biofuels and agriculture. POET PAC Fast Facts • The POET PAC covers 19 states and is made up of over 1,600 members. • POET PAC is the largest non-connected bipartisan PAC in the biofuels industry. • Small and large investments are combined to create a big impact on the fight for a better future. Every dollar counts and contributions help protect what we’ve accomplished and drive the fight forward. To join the POET PAC, visit www.poetpac.com or email poetpac@poet.com.

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in rhythm with nature biotechnology solutions At some point, technology and nature fell out of rhythm. POET is getting us back in rhythm with nature with sophisticated and sustainable biotechnology solutions to our most immediate challenges.

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world’s leader in plant-based bioproducts.

//

poet.com


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FEATURE

The Sun, the Soil and the Seed POET releases inaugural sustainability report By Jessica Sexe In June of 2021, POET doubled down on the company’s vision for a future based on the bioeconomy by acquiring another leading producer of biofuels and growing the company by 40 percent. This action represented the largest acquisition in biofuels’ history and signaled to the rest of the world that POET stands ready to provide the biofuels and bioproducts it needs to help meet the challenges of today — most notably climate change. POET’s commitment to the future of low-carbon, plant-based renewable biofuel is now immortalized in the company’s first sustainability report. The report outlines POET’s focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives for the next 30 years. Among the many ESG goals, POET pledged to ensure that its renewable, plant-based bioethanol reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 70 percent compared to gasoline by 2030. According to a recent study, today’s bioethanol reduces carbon emissions by 46 percent compared to gasoline. Perhaps most notably, POET also plans to achieve net-zero carbon at its bioprocessing facilities by 2050.

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1987 1991

Business starts to expand, adding new capabilities and divisions

2007

Name changed from Broin Companies to POET

2017

JIVE, POET’s asphalt rejuvenation and modification solution was launched

2020

Expansion into hand sanitizer and purified alcohol products

Broins purchase first bioprocessing plant in Scotland, SD

2004

POET patents BPX®, the industry’s first raw starch hydrolysis biotechnology

2012

Launch of Voilà, POET’s corn oil product

2019

Capacity exceeds 2 billion gallons with Marion expansion and Shelbyville greenfield site

2021

Capacity reaches 3 billion gallons with acquisition of 5th largest biofuel producer, Flint Hills Resources

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“Sustainability has always been at POET’s core. We recognize that our planet urgently needs bolder solutions and better results if we hope to restore harmony between human and nature and sustain Earth’s fragile balance for future generations,” said POET Founder and CEO Jeff Broin. “Now more than ever, it is critical that we embrace the bioeconomy, significantly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and harvest our energy from the surface of the Earth.” POET’s enduring vision to create a world in sync with nature began over 30 years ago. For more than three decades the company has been a powerhouse in driving the development of biofuels and bioproducts, always maintaining a tradition of innovation and environmental stewardship along the way. As part of those efforts, POET has developed a number of sustainable technologies that are already in use. “In the beginning, we were really focused on sustainability from a profitability, economic viability standpoint,” said Jeff Lautt, POET President and COO. “Whether it be improving our yield, reducing our energy or water usage, those were key drivers for us. Over the course of 34 years, we’ve continued to remain committed to those drivers and continue to find ways to improve on all of those key operational efficiencies that go into producing our products.” Lautt states that POET’s commitment to innovation has helped the company lead the industry in sustainability efforts. “A number of years ago, we didn’t know exactly how far we were going to be able to push the envelope. But with our continued advancement in technologies and with what we’re doing from a production standpoint today, we’re confident that we can get to carbon neutral.”

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POET’s Sustainability Goals

Pillar One: Invest in technology focused on achieving carbon neutrality & increasing the use of plant-based products

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2.

Reduce the carbon intensity of bioethanol by 70% compared to traditional gasoline.

Continue to invest in technology to advance the development of lowcarbon bioproducts.

3.

Transition POET’s bioprocessing facilities to carbon neutrality by 2050.

With the release of its inaugural sustainability report, POET has pledged to six ESG goals divided into two pillars. Pillar number one is to invest in technology focused on achieving carbon neutrality and increasing the use of plant-based products. Goals within this pillar include reducing the carbon intensity (CI) of bioethanol by 70 percent compared to traditional gasoline by 2030, continuing to invest in technology to advance the development of low-carbon bioproducts that can displace more fossil-based products and transitioning its footprint to carbon neutrality by 2050. Pillar two focuses on using the company’s influence to advocate for a sustainable society. “This is something our customers have been asking for,” said Darin Cartwright, POET’s Vice President of Commercial Strategy. “They want to know that the values we hold as a company align with their own ESG goals. By decarbonizing their supply chain, they can ensure they are offering a more Earth-friendly product to their own customers, and that’s something that we seek to do as a company. We are ready to provide the low-carbon bioproducts the world needs today.”

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Pillar Two: Advocate for a sustainable society

4.

5.

Continue to drive policy that supports biofuels and bioproducts.

Bolster and expand POET’s Carbon Strategy Team.

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Create opportunities that allow our team members to give back to causes that align with our mission.

Indeed, POET’s sustainability goals do not only apply to tailpipe emissions from motor vehicles. By reducing the CI score of its bioethanol, POET will be effectively decreasing the CI score of all of its bioproducts — including bioCO2, purified alcohol and DDGS. “As we reduce the energy inputs and carbon intensity of our ag inputs, the entire supply chain becomes even greener. We’re not just offering low-carbon bioethanol, we’re further reducing the carbon of our entire suite of green bioproducts,” said Cartwright. POET’s progress towards many of the goals will be based on the company’s baseline CI score which was calculated with CI models developed by leading scientific bodies using POET’s actual inputs and process parameters. POET’s current CI score is 49.4 gCO2e/MJ, which is better than the industry average CI score of 51.4 gCO2e/MJ.

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POET will explore every option available to decarbonize the supply chain and production process. Some potential pathways toward further decarbonization include operational efficiency improvements, energy inputs including increased use of renewable energy such as solar, wind, biomass and biogas, carbon capture and sequestration, improved agricultural techniques and updated methodology. It is important to note that many of the carbon reduction pathways POET is considering will require state and federal policy support and significant capital investment. However, POET has never shied away from a challenge. As POET looks toward what is next — and at how we want to leave the world for future generations — the company has stated that there is always room to think bigger. POET announced it intends to go all in on this drive to decarbonization, charting a path toward carbon neutrality while bringing value to rural America, engaging team members and strengthening the company’s internal commitment to sustainability. The company will track and measure POET’s progress towards its ESG goals by bolstering and expanding POET’s Carbon Strategy Team. The team meets regularly to discuss carbon reduction pathways and measure the success of process improvements and technological advancements. “At POET, our solution to the climate crisis lies at the intersection of regenerative agriculture, renewable innovation and effective public policy,” said Broin. “By outlining our vision for sustainability, we aim not only to position POET for long-term success, but to help blaze a trail toward global decarbonization through net-zero biofuels and bioproducts.” To view the entire report, visit poet.com/sustainability.

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FARM FRESH

Crop Year Resolutions By Adam Wirt, Farmer and General Manager POET Bioprocessing — Hudson The end of the year provides many reasons and opportunities to reflect and create resolutions. The same should be true with your farming operation. It is important to create new goals and initiatives that you would like to implement over the next growing season. The winter season provides the opportunity to put in the preparation needed to make your new goals a reality. Farmers and producers have led the sustainability effort for years. They work hard to maintain the soil that in turn maintains their livelihood. The winter season provides the opportunity for farmers to plan out their strategies for sustainably caring for their fields. Some of the items to reflect and act upon are: • Review your soil nutrient profiles. Evaluate your soil sampling results and prepare sound nutrient management plans to maximize high production soils and find ways to address your more challenging locations. • Make an efficiency move. Visit with your equipment dealer on new minimum till and strip till equipment. Or identify other options that will improve fuel efficiency or increase your uptime in the field. Maybe it is identifying a piece of land that shouldn’t be in row crops and converting that into another useful platform. There are all sorts of efficiency upgrades you can make if you have the desire to. • Do your seed homework. Research hybrid selection. While 2021 was a tough crop year for some, there was a tremendous amount to learn. What hybrids worked and which didn’t? What stood up and what fell over? What hit the yield mark and what didn’t? Collect your data and observations and meet with your local seeds expert to come up with an even better crop plan for 2022. • Plan ahead. There is no better time to get some maintenance done on your equipment and get prepared for next spring. The lead time it takes to get parts is getting longer, so plan your needs out and get the necessary components to your farm well ahead of spring planting. You want to be fully ready to hit spring planting as soon as mother nature allows. The winter season is a great time to reflect on the past year’s crops and what you learned. It also presents a great chance to look into any new items you are excited to try that might strengthen your farming operation. We all know that a farmer’s job is never really done. There is always something new to consider and something exciting to look forward to. The winter time and the new year provides a great opportunity to look back on your hard work and make resolutions for the future to come.

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FEATURE

Pure Results Study shows POET purified alcohol significantly better for environment By Steve Lange By mid-March of 2020, the COVID crisis had created a global shortage of hand sanitizer. Frontline workers were running out of a product that could, literally, help save lives. The team at POET, meanwhile, had been looking at the viability of producing purified alcohol — the main ingredient in hand sanitizer — for the past few years. By fall of 2019, POET’s research team had already carried out quality trials and run the large-scale production numbers. Maybe, they thought, they would start producing big-batch purified alcohol within a year. Maybe two. Then COVID hit. Then those doctors and nurses and firefighters and police officers needed hand sanitizer. “We knew we could help, and we knew it was the right thing to do,” says Doug Berven, POET’s Vice President of Corporate Affairs. “So we made the purified alcohol production an ‘all hands on deck’ type of process. People worked around the clock on this.” By late March of 2020, after just a week of a facility retrofit and more trial runs, POET was producing high-quality, purified alcohol. In early April 2020, POET donated its first 300 gallons of hand sanitizer to first responders: firefighters in Sioux Falls, police officers in Yankton, doctors and nurses in Chancellor. That short-term push to produce hand sanitizer — that desire to help those in need — ramped up the timeline for POET’s planned production of purified alcohol. “The team saw a need, and they made it happen,” says Berven. “Once we were up and running, we knew we could focus on the large-scale production we’d already been planning for. And we knew we wanted to make the best stuff out there.” So POET team members tested and reconfigured their purification processes to create two grades of purified alcohol. They created POET Pure Ethyl Alcohol (USP) — which replaces synthetic and petroleum-based alcohols in things like cleaning products and cosmetics, personal care items and pharmaceuticals — to exceed the highest global quality standards.

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They distilled their food-grade alcohol — POET Pure Grain Neutral Spirits (GNS) — six times to meet the highest purity standards, including the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and the Global Food Safety Initiative’s Safe Quality Food (SQF) Program. It also adheres to kosher guidelines. By March 2021, POET Bioprocessing – Leipsic (Ohio) had been retooled and retrofitted with the capacity to produce up to 35 million gallons of purified alcohol annually. In July, POET Bioprocessing – Alexandria (Ind.) also began production. Today, POET is the world’s largest producer of ethyl-alcohol. A product that has proven its versatility. Their purified alcohol — branded as POET Pure — can be found in everything from to personal care products to cleaning supplies to sanitizing solutions. The all-natural, bio-based alcohol can be used to preserve food, kill micro-organisms and clean skin. It can, according to Darin Cartwright, POET Vice President of Commercial Strategy, replace petrochemicals in hundreds of everyday products. “We have the opportunity as a society to replace synthetic, fossil-based alcohol with competitive, renewable alcohols produced from plants that afford many benefits to our planet,” says Cartwright, the VP of Commercial Strategy for POET Biofuels. “Outside studies have shown those benefits.” One recent, third-party study compared products with bioethanol as the active ingredient versus those with fossil fuelderived isopropanol. That study — “Hand Sanitizer Carbon Intensity Analysis” by Environmental Health & Engineering — found that “the greenhouse gas emissions for bioethanol hand sanitizer are substantially lower than for fossil fuel hand sanitizer,” says David MacIntosh, the Chief Science Officer and 20-year-employee of EH&E.

The carbon intensity produced by bioethanol, in fact, is roughly one-third that of the isopropanol. That means that substituting POET’s renewable alcohol for the petrochemical would reduce GHG emissions by nearly two-thirds. “That’s a substantial difference,” says MacIntosh, who also serves as Adjunct Associate Professor of Environmental Health at the Harvard School of Public Health. “We have seen that bioproducts are better than petrochemicals, better than fossil fuels. And this is all part of a bigger picture of what we’ve found with POET’s bioproducts.” As VP of Commercial Strategy, Darin Cartwright has seen firsthand that, maybe more than ever, people are choosing environmentally-friendly products that bring big-picture positives. “Companies and consumers both are seeking sustainable solutions at competitive prices,” says Cartwright, who oversaw the new market development of POET Pure.

“We can produce high quality products from the surface of the earth and be an important part of transitioning the world to a sustainable economy.” Darin Cartwright, VP of Commercial Strategy

POET Pure, says Berven, is high-quality. It is price-competitive, better for the environment, and it gives American farmers yet another market for corn. And it’s just another in a long line of examples in which clean, naturally-grown, ag-based bioproducts have proven that they can replace toxic petrochemicals. POET’s high-quality corn oil extract, Voilà, is used for everything from biodiesel production to an industrial lubricant. JIVE, POET’s eco-friendly asphalt rejuvenator, relies on a biofuel-based oil to replace a dangerous petrochemical used in road construction.

Left: POET Bioprocessing - Leipsic, OH

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“There’s hardly anything you touch today that doesn’t have some fossil and petrochemical base to it, whether it’s your desk, your keyboard, your clothing, the pills you take in the morning,” says Berven. “As we transition away from fossil fuels, we have to replace those things with plant-based solutions. We keep proving we can do that. The biofuel we sell is a plantbased solution. Our food-grade CO2 is a plant-based solution. Our purified alcohol is another plant-based solution. Berven points back to why — and how quickly — the purified alcohol production process moved forward. “Just look what this team has created in such a short timeframe,” says Berven. “They worked long hours to get that hand sanitizer to those frontline workers, to make a difference.” Just over a year later, POET has parlayed that effort into full-scale production. “Now we’re producing purified alcohol because we know that makes a difference, too,” says Berven. “It’s better for the environment. It supports agriculture and rural America. Our purified alcohol is just another example that we can make anything out of a bushel of corn that they can make out of a barrel of oil. And now we can replace another petrochemical with something that comes from above the ground, and it’s better for all of us.” For more information about POET’s donation to Urban Angels, please visit https://vitalbypoet.com/issue/winter-2021.

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EXPLORE THE POWER OF CONNECTION

JOIN POET’S TALENT NETWORK TO BE THE FIRST TO KNOW ABOUT NEW CAREER OPENINGS.

POET.COM/TALENTNETWORK

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POLICY

E15 is Winning Over the West By Erin Smith The American West is renowned for its abundance of picturesque landscapes, snow-packed mountains, towering trees and rich variety of wildlife. No wonder policymakers in the West are intent on preserving the natural beauty of their states while tackling the daunting challenges of climate change. As lawmakers explore ways to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector, two Western states recently joined the movement towards cleaner renewable fuels. Governors in both Nevada and Oregon signed legislation that will give retailers the freedom to sell E15 – a renewable fuel blend made with 15% bioethanol. Fast-Tracking State Climate Goals These recent legislative victories show why more policymakers are embracing E15 as part of a comprehensive approach to achieving their climate goals. In 2019, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak set aggressive GHG emissions reduction targets for his state: 28% by 2025, 45% by 2030 and net-zero by 2050. In 2020, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed the Oregon Climate Action Plan with the goals of reducing GHG emissions in her state by at least 45% below 1990 levels by the year 2035, and by 80% by 2050. Dramatically Cutting Emissions How does E15 help drive down emissions? Well, a recent study showed that plant-based bioethanol is 46% cleaner than traditional gasoline. Bioethanol also replaces some of the most harmful, toxic components in gasoline, which helps clean the air — especially in heavily-trafficked communities that disproportionately suffer from poor air quality.

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With five percent more renewable bioethanol, E15 is a welcome solution to state policymakers struggling to tackle emissions from the transportation sector. A study by Air Improvement Resource, Inc. showed that by switching from E10 gasoline to E15, Nevada and Oregon could soon make huge strides towards cleaner air and fighting climate change. In Nevada, replacing E10 sales with E15 could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 148,000 metric tons annually — the equivalent of removing more than 32,000 vehicles from Nevada roads. Similarly, Oregon could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 190,000 metric tons annually — the equivalent of removing more than 41,000 vehicles from its roads — by switching from E10 to E15. Saving Money at the Pump Because E15 is approved for use in nine out of ten light-duty vehicles on the road today, it also has the potential to drive enormous fuel savings across the states. E15 typically saves drivers three to 10 cents per gallon and does not require the purchase of an expensive, new vehicle. In fact, a recent study showed that switching from E10 to E15 nationally could save consumers $12.2 billion in fuel costs — savings virtually every American household could enjoy just by adding more biofuels to their gas tank. Governors Sisolak and Brown and legislators in their states deserve credit for recognizing the incredible potential of cleaner, more affordable fuels, like E15. These Western states continue to showcase why E15 is truly a win for everyone.

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FEATURE

Sustainability Across POET’s Footprint By Erin Smith Sustainability is not a new word for POET. In every aspect of what we do, POET strives to find a better, cleaner, more innovative way to produce our suite of plant-based, Earth-friendly bioproducts. POET encourages team members to bring ideas forward to help continuously improve our production processes, and our team has capacity to update our facilities as new ideas come forward. Here is a look at a few of the numerous ways POET strives to be a leader in sustainability.

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Cytiva/TerraCycle Recently, POET partnered with Cytiva, a global life sciences leader, to launch a sustainability program focused around recycling lab materials. Cytiva, working with TerraCycle to create this initiative, will recycle the plastic filters used by POET to prepare fermentation samples. Five POET plants are assisting in beta testing of this program. The plastic filters insert into syringes (without needles) and are used in testing various bioethanol fermentation samples. One filter is used per sample and each POET bioprocessing facility conducts hundreds of samples each week. Prior to Cytiva’s initiative, the plastic filters could not be recycled because of the nonhazardous biomass trapped inside. This program developed by Cytiva and Terracycle allows these filters to be recycled, reducing the amount of plastic waste created. “Sustainability is an important business imperative for Cytiva, and we believe this program will inspire others in the life sciences industry to follow suite,” said Dan McElroy, Product Manager at Cytiva.

“When manufacturers, customers and recyclers join forces everybody wins.” Dan McElroy, Cytiva

POET Biorefining – Caro is one of five plants that participated in a trial run of the program. Nicholas Bauerschmidt, a Quality Manager at the Caro bioprocessing facility, oversaw the trial run of the program and gave feedback for its improvement. “Sustainable practices, like recycling, are really important at all of POET’s facilities,” said Bauerschmidt. “Because of the unique nature of our filters, we’ve been unable to recycle them in the past. We’re grateful for Cytiva’s program that allows us to further decrease our environmental footprint and repurpose a product that would have otherwise ended up in the landfill. It goes to the heart of our mission to be good stewards of the environment.” POET strives to continually develop new ways to increase sustainability at all bioprocessing facilities. Team members, like Bauerschmidt, are encouraged to find new, innovative ways to make processes and projects streamlined and as efficient as possible.

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Nicholas Bauerschmidt, a Quality Manager at the Caro bioprocessing facility, oversaw the trial run of the program

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Ty Schoellerman, POET Process Engineer II, works on steam-powered turbines at POET Bioprocessing — Hudson

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Steam-Powered Turbines In 2017, POET installed its first steam-powered turbine at POET Bioprocessing — Portland. Similar to many other POET ventures, the concept of steam-powered turbines stemmed from a team member and was designed and constructed by POET engineers. This particular endeavor was just one more step in POET’s mission towards sustainability and becoming more self-sufficient. For Ty Schoellerman, POET Process Engineer II, the rewards of the turbines are more than just short-term. “The immediate benefits include the increased efficiency and electrical savings. But the longer we utilize this technology, the more benefits expound. Long-term use of the steam turbines reduces our facilities’ dependence on electricity and improves plant efficiency which expands into bioethanol markets by reducing POET’s carbon intensity score.” To date, 16 turbines have been installed in 15 of POET’s bioprocessing facilities. The turbines are designed to capture excess steam and convert it into electricity to help power the plant. The steam then exits the turbines and is used in the creation process of bioethanol. The turbines reduce the electricity consumed by the plant, allow the plant to reuse its own energy more efficiently, reduce emissions and cut down POET’s carbon footprint. “The turbines help with overall plant efficiency by utilizing more of the steam energy for our facilities,” said Schoellerman.

“Driving up overall plant efficiencies is key to our mission by maximizing our bioproduct production while also minimizing the amount of energy input needed.” Ty Schoellerman, POET Process Engineer II

Each steam turbine powers a generator which produces an average of three megawatts of electricity per facility, totaling 50 megawatts per year, which is enough electricity to power around 2,000 homes.

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Total Water Recovery Another of POET’s sustainability initiatives includes Total Water Recovery (TWR). This patented process continuously filters, treats and recycles water used in the bioethanol production process. This internal water recycling program essentially eliminates liquid discharge from POET’s network of bioprocessing facilities with the TWR system; the only exceptions being steam and any water present in the bioproducts produced in the facility. When Joseph Fuhr, POET Process Engineer I, talks about TWR, the benefits of the program are undeniable. “Both the short-term and long-term benefits blend into one in my opinion. We are lowering our water consumption on a large scale across the fleet, as well as reducing the amount of discharge treatment required by community systems.” Twenty POET bioprocessing facilities have installed TWR since it was first implemented at POET Bioprocessing – Hudson in 2010. TWR reduces water use and waste water discharge used for the production of bioethanol and bioproducts within the plants. “Total Water Recovery is another excellent example of how POET never stops innovating and using the most out of what we have available to us,” said Fuhr. “By reducing our water consumption across the fleet, we are taking fewer renewable resources from the Earth.

“Not only are we utilizing renewable resources, but we are finding ways to use those resources as efficiently as possible in the production of our diverse line of bioproducts.” Joseph Fuhr, POET Process Engineer I

As a result of the water recycling initiative, POET facilities have reduced their water consumption by approximately 33 percent. An Example of Responsibility and Innovation For over thirty years, POET has continuously researched and implemented creative, cost-effective sustainability initiatives. POET strives to utilize every bushel of corn to its fullest potential. From the starch used to produce bioethanol, to corn oil in asphalt rejuvenators, to protein and fiber in animal feeds, nothing goes to waste. POET leads an already green-focused industry into the future of sustainability. Combating climate change is the mission of every person who calls our planet home, and POET is proud to set an example of responsibility and innovation, both in the bioproducts produced as well as the processes and facilities used to produce them.

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Joseph Fuhr, POET Process Engineer I, examines Total Water Recovery system at POET Biorefining — Hudson.

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OUT OF LEFT FIELD

The Three Trees By Scott Johnson, A Thinker of Thoughts The Emerald Ash Borer is my least favorite of all the Ash Borers. They stole my trees. For those unaware, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an invasive, yet strikingly handsome beetle first discovered in the U.S. in Detroit in 2002 — likely arriving as stowaways in a shipping container from overseas. While Detroitians were celebrating a Redwings Stanley Cup Championship, Ash Borers were beginning to bore their way to the eventual destruction of Ash trees across North America. Their spreading infestation caused authorities to implement laws against moving potentially infected firewood across state lines (which is likely the most boring crime one can commit, other than perhaps ripping off a mattress tag that states “Do not remove under penalty of law”.) Three of these doomed Ash trees flanked the west side of my house along the boulevard. They were unmistakable pillars of the landscape for nearly 50 years. Truthfully, these were hideous trees, even before the beetles arrived. They had bare spots, asymmetrical growth and dropped branches every time the wind picked up beyond a gentle breeze. Every fall I would waste countless hours raking up their stupid leaves, or at least feel bad when I ignored the leaves altogether and they blew into the neighbor’s yard. These trees were annoying. But they were my trees. Every time I stepped foot out my door for the past 20 years, these trees were in my direct or at least peripheral view. Until this year when the city began EAB infestation mitigation efforts. To slow the spread of the beetles’ destructive path, the city proactively removed Ash trees from city parks, bike paths and trees like mine along the boulevard. One day, my three ugly trees were there. One day, they were gone. As we roamed the neighborhood, the familiar canopy was conspicuously different. Everywhere we went, there were hints of subtlyaltered landscape. Piles of shredded ash bark and shimmering, emerald bug shrapnel were the only reminders of the previous vistas. (Sorry if that was an unnecessarily graphic description.) The fight between Ash and Borer are part of the ordinary, yet powerful ebb and flow of nature. It seems like too big of a fight for humans to intervene. Surely we can only shrug our shoulders and helplessly watch the battle unfold as innocent bystanders. However, this fight itself was likely exacerbated by human’s ignorance and carelessness. We over-planted a monoculture of ash trees like they were on clearance at the tree store. We literally chauffeured bugs across the ocean to a multigenerational feast. And then we transported them around the country via intended firewood. Nature is powerful. But humans are powerful enough to screw up nature. We also have the power to fix our screw ups. We can’t control nature. But we can nurture nature. We have a lot to learn about how to best interact with the planet without making it angry. It’s a daunting task, but we can start with a simple commitment to trying. Maybe we can save the next three trees. 58 |

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4615 N. Lewis Ave. Sioux Falls, SD 57104

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