3 BILLION GALLONS STRONG POET acquires Flint Hills Resources bioethanol assets in their entirety. 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 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 recieve 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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12 | POET Gives Back: Earth Day 2021
06 | In Sight
20 | 3 Billion Gallons Strong
By Jeff Broin
POET acquires Flint Hills Resources bioethanol assets in their entirety
19 | Mechanics Corner
28 | Get Biofuel The movement to educate all drivers to FUEL BEYOND
Automotive Advice from the Under the Hood radio show
26 | Farm Fresh By Brian Hefty
40 | POET in Featured Film by BBC Storyworks
58 | Out Of Left Field
Environmental benefits of biofuels featured in a documentary-style film premiering in June
By Scott Johnson
50 | POET and Princeton Inspire Students to Design a ‘Net-Zero America’
DEPARTMENTS 08 | POET PAC 16 | NASCAR® Update 38 | Prime the Pump 46 | People of POET 56 | Policy Corner
Upper: Growth Energy launches Get Biofuel campaign | Bottom Left: POET team celebrates Earth Day Middle Right: POET featured in BBC StoryWorks film | Bottom Right: POET acquires new biorefineries
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Our Low Carbon Future By Jeff Broin, Founder and CEO of POET When we began producing bioethanol on my dad’s farm in the 1980s, we had a humble mission: to use surplus grain, add a small profit center to our operation and make some clean fuel along the way. Little did we know when we purchased our first one-milliongallon plant in Scotland, SD, a few years later that biofuels would evolve into perhaps the most important near-term solution to a problem we couldn’t even envision at the time: climate change. Today bioethanol makes up more than ten percent of the fuel consumed in the United States, and even higher percentages are used in countries like Brazil. The Biden Administration recently announced a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and I’m not exaggerating when I say there is no way to get there without a significant increase in the amount of biofuels used in our nation. Earlier this year, Environmental Health & Engineering (EH&E) released a study proving that plant-based bioethanol is 46% cleaner in carbon emissions than gasoline, and that’s just a start. That number is improving year after year, and I predict that we will see bioethanol carbon emissions at 70%, 80% and perhaps even 100% cleaner than gasoline in the future.
Improvements in emissions will come from several things, perhaps the most important of which will be low carbon farming. This can be driven by state or national low carbon fuel standards. Under these programs, farmers would actually be incentivized to produce lower-carbon grain, resulting in lower-carbon bioethanol that already commands a premium in states like California. Several studies are also underway that may prove that agriculture could be a bigger carbon sink than people previously thought. In addition, at POET we are constantly looking at ways to lower the carbon in our bioethanol production process, including using renewable energy to power a portion of our plants, and tax incentives are currently available for carbon sequestration. When you look at the total of these opportunities, biofuels could quite literally be in sync with nature, making homegrown, plant-based fuels the cleanest option available in the fight against climate change. Some say agriculture is a problem for the climate. I say it’s the solution—perhaps one of the only true solutions to the biggest threat facing our world. At POET, our faith in the future of the biofuels industry has never wavered; in fact, it has only grown stronger, as we demonstrated with our recent acquisition of six more bioprocessing facilities— resulting in 40% growth virtually overnight. While biofuels may be a near-term solution, what’s most important is that we are also a long-term solution. The world will continue to need lowcarbon liquid fuels well into the future, and we are the most sustainable liquid fuel on the planet. We don’t have years to wait. Biofuels are affordable, available and accessible, which means every American can reduce their carbon footprint right now. We already have the infrastructure—more than 100,000 fuel stations across the country and more than 270 million vehicles on the road today—we have the common goal to solve climate change, and now with three billion gallons at POET, we are even better positioned to make an impact. Make no mistake—we are at a tipping point. The threat of climate change is imminent, and the sun, the soil and the seed hold the most significant key to saving our planet.
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Meet the Freshman Class Each election we have individuals who campaign — and win — based on their support for biofuels. Here is your chance to hear from the newest biofuel supporters.
Representative Ashley Hinson (R – IA) “Biofuels help drive our economy in Iowa and keep the whole country moving. Iowa’s biofuel producers are already leading the way to provide sustainable energy solutions, but biofuels simply don’t get the recognition they deserve as an answer to reducing carbon emissions. If the EPA were to move the Renewable Fuel Standard to a 20% ethanol blend, the industry would be able to satisfy the new demand and we would see the effects immediately — the reduction in carbon emissions would be equivalent to taking 18 million cars off the road. That’s why I am working to maximize the potential of Iowa’s biofuels industry by advocating for policies that will help our producers thrive and expand into new markets.” Fun Fact: I am a classically trained violinist and played two seasons in the Des Moines Symphony!
Representative Michelle Fischbach (R – MN) “Biofuels are more than a commodity in Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District; they are a vital component to our rural communities. Hundreds of millions of gallons of biofuels are produced each year in western Minnesota, providing jobs, grain price support and critical tax revenue to our rural towns and townships. As the fourth largest ethanol producer in the United States, the renewable fuels industry occupies a key space in Minnesota’s agricultural economy — and is helping to position Minnesota as a leader in creating a sustainable future.” Fun Fact: Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach represents Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District in the House of Representatives. She is a big fan of punk rock, has read Robert’s Rules of Order cover-to-cover and has turkeys, chickens and peacocks at her home. She and her husband live in rural Paynesville.
Representative Tracey Mann (R – KS) “The 1st District of Kansas, the Big First, is one of the most productive agricultural areas of the country, and it is also home to a flourishing energy industry. Of the 12 biofuels plants in Kansas, most ethanol plants are in the Big First, and those plants produced about 500 million gallons of ethanol last year. Biofuels check every box: fostering demand for our corn, sorghum and soybeans, turning those crops into a value added product and helping the planet along the way. “ Fun Fact: Rep. Mann’s first concert was to see Willie Nelson!
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Representative Randy Feenstra (R – IA) “In Iowa’s 4th District, we feed and fuel the world. As one of the top agriculture producing districts and the largest ethanol producing district in the country, giving farmers a seat at the table was a promise I made to my constituents — and one I will deliver on! I am excited to have landed a seat on the agriculture committee and join the biofuels caucus, where I will promote and expand the consumption of ethanol, one of my top priorities. Ethanol production is more energy efficient than gas production and ethanol reduces CO2 emissions — a win for both our producers and our environment. In addition, as a member of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, I will ensure that ethanol is at the forefront of research and technology advancements in the energy industry. Ethanol is the backbone of rural Iowa, creating thousands of jobs and adding value to our producers’ hard work every day. I look forward to being a strong advocate and defender of ethanol during my time representing Iowa’s 4th Congressional district.” Fun Fact: I am a husband to my wife Lynette and father of 4 children. I enjoy running and run almost every day. I have run 4 marathons!
How do you become a PAC member? It’s easy: use one of the following options to make your investment today!
Designate a percentage of grain
President’s Club: $5,000
The next time you visit your local POET bioproducts facility, let the grain team know you want a portion of bushels to go to the POET PAC.
Champion: $2,500 to $4,999 Partner: $1,000 to $2,499 Advocate: Up to $ 999
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POET Gives Back: Earth Day 2021 By Jessica Sexe Team members across POET’s footprint were encouraged to celebrate Earth Day through community cleanups, recycling drives or other acts of environmental stewardship.Team members participated in litter clean ups in Sioux Falls, Ashton, Corning, Hanlontown, Mitchell, Leipsic, Lake Crystal, Emmetsburg, Hudson, Groton and North Manchester. POET Biorefining – Caro planted one tree for every team member, team members in Hanlontown started an on-site community garden and POET Biorefining – Hudson visited Alcester-Hudson Elementary to speak with students about Earth Day and biofuels and to color Earth Day pictures.
“At POET, we strive to live every day like it’s Earth Day. We live out our mission to be good stewards of the Earth in everything we do, whether it’s providing plant-based biofuel that cleans the air in our nation’s cities or growing our suite of green consumer products.” Jeff Broin, Founder and CEO of POET Photo Above: Sioux Falls team members participated in litter clean up
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Left Page – Upper: Hudson team members visited Alcester-Hudson Elementary to teach them about Earth Day and sustainability | Bottom: Caro team members planted one tree for every team member Right Page – Upper: North Manchesterteam team members helped pick up trash around the area Middle Left & Right: Leipsic team members picked up over 100 pounds of trash during an Earth Day litter cleanup Center & Bottom: Lake Crystal team members cleaned up litter along the highway
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A Dirt Road Less Traveled By Ryan Welsh, Director of Sales & Marketing / Growth Energy As I get older, I find myself choosing different routes than I used to on my road trips. In the past, the fastest route seemed to be the easiest and, therefore, the best choice. Now, though, I consider other factors—scenery, memories, maybe if there’s a road I can take near my childhood home. Most of my memories took place on the backroads of north central Iowa. Never shying away from dirt or gravel, I became a self-certified expert at washing my ’81 Olds Cutlass Supreme. It’s fun to relive those memories when I’m near there by traveling those old roads. NASCAR recently revisited its own roots by racing on dirt at the legendary Bristol Motor Speedway. A whopping 30,000 tons of dirt were trucked in for the grand experiment of transforming a paved track into a dirt track for the Cup Series. The depth of the dirt on the track ranged from four to 10 feet deep. The founding fathers of NASCAR, like Junior Johnson, mastered the dirt when they were roaring through the backwoods of the Carolinas with a load of illegal liquor in the trunk. NASCAR was born from legends like Junior racing each other on weekends just for fun. In 1949, the inaugural year of the NASCAR Premier Series, seven of the eight tracks competed on were dirt. The only pavement was at the Daytona Beach and road courses. At that time, half of the Daytona track was the highway and the other half was the beach. In 1955 and 1956, NASCAR held 40 Premier Series events on dirt. On September 30, 1970, NASCAR held its final and, until now, most recent Cup Series race on dirt at the half-mile North Carolina State Fairgrounds track in Raleigh. Richard Petty won driving a Plymouth. Not surprising that his father, Lee Petty, has scored the most victories on the dirt with 42 wins. After a good soaking the day before, 39 vultures took to the dirt surface on Monday, March 29, 2021. Joey Logano took the checkered flag after the wreck-filled race. It reminded me of an episode of The Dukes of Hazard. The unpredictability of the track made it a joy for fans, but that sentiment wasn’t shared by the drivers; many went into the race playing a guessing game. But the fan reaction prompted NASCAR to schedule another dirt race at Bristol next spring before the race even concluded. A study conducted found that nine out of 10 avid NASCAR fans would like to see at least one dirt race on the current schedule. Much like my shift toward taking the scenic route to reminisce about days gone by, it seems that the tradition of dirt-track racing is making a comeback in the sport and will become a road more traveled in the future.
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Bioethanol: Try It for Yourself Russ Evans, Under the Hood Radio Show Host and Mechanic What keeps drivers from using biofuels like bioethanol in their cars? This question has perplexed us for as long as bioethanol has been around. When we pull up to a pump, it’s our first instinct to reach for the handle of whichever fuel blend contains bioethanol, but, unfortunately, this is not the first reaction for many people. Many of us have grown up following the advice given by our mentors, starting with our parents, then followed by our teachers, friends, coworkers and, too often, news sources that may lean one way or the other, which can sometimes aim to steer us away from something good. This process goes for more than just biofuels, though. What brand of car do you drive? What TV do you have? How about your phone? You probably tend to be loyal to one brand over another. Here’s the big question, though: Why do you feel the way you do? Is it based on your own experience with the product and using it correctly for a long enough period that you can make your own decision? Or did you take the words passed on from someone else who may or may not have had accurate, real-world experience using the product? When the iPhone came out, for instance, I didn’t want one because I went with the advice of several friends who had never owned one but said they were junk. While those friends have now tried iPhones and still will not use them, I have had one for over ten years and cannot imagine switching back because I made my own educated decision. As fuel prices continue to increase, many people are trying biofuel for the first time to save some cash, and maybe that’s a good reason for you to check it out for yourself. Using bioethanol could be a good thing for you and your car. It’s renewable, cleaner than gasoline, has great options for octane and is priced better than fuel options without it. But don’t let us make decisions for you one way or the other. Do your own research and decide based on facts and experience—which I can guarantee won’t let you down. At our vehicle repair shop, we don’t see failures in cars from damage caused by bioethanol. Manufacturers simply wouldn’t make a car designed to run on it if it were bad for it. Suppose your owner’s manual states a specific octane is okay, but a higher number is preferred. In that case, that means purchasing premium fuel or a biofuel blend to get the octane that the car needs. So try it for yourself—you can save a lot of cash and be good to your vehicle by using biofuel. The Under The Hood radio show is America’s Favorite Car-talk show heard on over 250 stations, YouTube and a podcast. The Motor Medics, Russ, Chris and Shannon, are three great friends having fun and offering a wide range of automotive advice without the aid of in-studio computers or reference guides. Under The Hood can be found on a station near you, on our podcast app or your favorite podcast site. vitalbypoet.com | 1 9
3 Billion Gallons Strong POET acquires Flint Hills Resources bioethanol assets in their entirety. By Jessica Sexe It can often be difficult to grasp the historical importance of a single moment in time. But occasionally it is very clear just how significant a moment will be. This is one of those times. On June 1, POET made the largest acquisition in biofuels history and became three billion gallons strong. It will be immortalized as a new chapter in POET’s story. Jeff Broin, Founder and CEO of POET, began producing bioethanol on the family farm in the 1980s as way to use up surplus grain. After he learned how to produce bioethanol successfully, he realized it had the potential to not only be profitable, but also make clean-burning, renewable fuels. Even in those early days, he had the vision of what it could become. That’s why in 1987, Broin acquired a defunct one-million-gallon bioethanol plant in Scotland, SD. He realized even then that biofuels could change the world.
Newly acquired POET Biorefining Facility located in Menlo, Iowa.
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“What we learned in those early days set a trajectory for growth that we couldn’t have understood at the time,” said Broin. Within a few years, Broin expanded the company’s ability to provide renewable fuels and plantbased bioproducts by building a four-million-gallon bioprocessing facility in Aberdeen, SD. Many 10-15-million-gallon plants were added shortly after that, followed by a 40-million-gallon plant and finally a 150-million-gallon bioprocessing facility in Marion, OH. “It took us those early years of perfecting the technology, making it sustainable. And then demonstrating that we could scale it up, which we did,” said POET President and Chief Operating Officer, Jeff Lautt. “And then, in the mid to late 2000s, we were able to produce enough capacity as an industry to make a standard fuel here in America and start exporting meaningful quantities as well.” As the plants grew, so did POET’s team. It grew from 13 original team members to 2,200, with a company headquarters in Sioux Falls, S.D. and corporate offices in Wichita, K.S. and Washington, D.C. Talented team members united by a common purpose and goal: to provide renewable, highquality, plant-based biofuels and bioproducts to the world. “It took 33 years to build this company to where we are prior to this announcement—2.2 billion gallons per year. The largest biofuel company in the world,” said Broin. But Broin is never satisfied with the status quo. He understands the enormous potential of agriculture and biofuels to meet the needs of the present while changing the world for the better. POET has always been focused on increasing capacity and its suite of renewable product solutions. Over the first 20 years, POET grew its roots from the humble one-million-gallon bioethanol plant to a production capacity of one-billion-gallons. 12 years later, POET had doubled its annual production capacity to two-billion-gallons. On June 1, 2021, just two short years later, POET cemented its place in biofuel’s history with an unprecedented annual production capacity of three billion gallons with the purchase of the Flint Hills Resources bioethanol assets. The assets include six bioprocessing facilities in Iowa and Nebraska and two terminals in Georgia and Texas.
GA Plants Flint Hills Acquisition Terminals Ethanol Products Headquarters: Sioux Falls, SD
Upper: POET Biorefining – Marion | Bottom: POET Corporate Headquarters, Sioux Falls vitalbypoet.com | 2 3
Newly acquired POET Biorefining Facility located in Fairbank, Iowa. 24 |
“POET has been growth company since we formed the company out of bankruptcy in 1987, by buying a defunct plant and then perfecting the technology and scaling it up over the last three plus decades,” said Jeff Lautt, President and Chief Operating Officer for POET. “We’re very patient. Our strategy is to think long-term, but also be very growth oriented at the same time.” During the company’s internal announcement of the acquisition, Broin stated, “There’s still tremendous potential for growth. We could grow in a way that would put POET in a league of our own. This growth could make POET a force in the bioproducts space for decades to come.” POET has been active in the acquisition space for a number of years but had yet to find the right opportunity. “We have a very stringent kind of criteria in terms of what would meet all of the needs if we were to complete a transaction,” said Lautt. It is said that patience is a virtue, and this time it has paid off to the benefit of the company and the world. The bioethanol assets acquired by POET include world-class facilities that have been well-maintained and strategically complement the company’s existing footprint, allowing POET to grow an even stronger presence in areas it already operates in and understands very well. “With our current scale and success and track record, we’re very excited and confident to acquire this business and integrate it into POET’s system and continue to grow our input into the biofuels and bioproducts space here domestically and globally,” said Lautt. The deal closes almost one year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic which slashed fuel demand in half as Americans stayed home. “I often say, the good Lord is always trying to teach us patience. We have been looking at many acquisition opportunities for years. I believe God brought us the right opportunity at the right time,” said Broin. Why would Flint Hills sell their bioethanol
assets? “Quite frankly, I don’t believe they have the vision that we do,” said Broin. “We have passion for this industry. We have faith in its future to power our world using the sun, the soil and the seed and return to a more natural balance. We believe in creating a better world for our children and our grandchildren.” It is this unwavering belief in the power of agriculture and biofuels that power the growth of this industry. Society will need liquid fuel sources to power aspects of the clean energy economy today and for decades to come. That’s why POET is essentially doubling down on plant-based biofuels and bioproducts to help meet the challenges of today—most notably climate change. “With this move, we’re demonstrating our commitment to the future of low-carbon, plant-based liquid fuels,” said Broin. Recent studies demonstrate the power of biofuels to immediately contribute to decarbonizing the transportation sector and lower greenhouse gas emissions. “What is so important about our value proposition is it is significantly reduces carbon. It is going to be a major solution to the climate plan domestically and globally. We feel we have an advantage because it’s a here and now solution, and one that has significant scale today with the ability to continue to scale up into the future,” said Lautt. Bob Casper, POET’s Chief Commercial Officer agrees in the role biofuels will play in a future more focused on climate initiatives than ever before. “We are on the cusp of a new sustainable economy that will be powered by renewable energy. Bioethanol is critical to this new economy and will continue to be so for years to come.” For Broin, this critical moment is another building block in his decades of tireless work to ensure the growth not just of POET but of a brighter world for future generations. “We are one POET. Stronger than ever, and stronger than anyone else in the biofuels industry,” said Broin.
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How Merging Soil Test Results with Yield Data is Changing Farming By Brian Hefty, CEO, Hefty Seed Company A couple of years ago, we talked about all the data we were generating on our farm, thanks to oneacre soil test grids on over 2,000 acres of our farm, along with yield monitoring data on most of our acres. Recently, we decided to merge these two massive pieces of data to improve our yields. For years, farmers have gotten soil fertility recommendations from their local fertilizer dealers or maybe their local agronomist, but most farmers have questioned whether the advice was sound. By comparing soil test information to yield, farmers no longer have to wonder whether or not their fertilizer purchases are worthwhile. They have concrete evidence right from their farms using their data to see whether or not higher levels of fertilizer pay. One of our favorite things to talk about over the last decade has been how most farmers don’t have nearly enough potassium in their soils. Potassium is key to stalk and stem thickness and durability and a big component of yield. When I have data showing the higher my potassium levels the greater my yields, I don’t have to be a fertility expert to see that I need to get my potassium up if I want better crops. We put together graphs for each nutrient we measure in our soil tests and compared yield to soil pH and many other factors. We even look at ratios and often say, “balanced fertility is just as important as having ample fertility.” The evidence came from 2018 and 2019 when, in 2018, more copper led to higher yields. We then put more copper out there, but in 2019, our data said the exact opposite—less copper led to higher yields. This was initially a conundrum. What it came down to was our ratio of phosphorus to copper. We had cut back on our phosphorus applications due to the wet fall in 2018, so our soil levels in 2019 were lower than normal. We learned where the phosphorus to copper ratio needed to be and then corrected for 2020. As simple as this makes fertility recommendations, you may be wondering if every farmer is picking up on this and comparing yield to soil test data. Unfortunately, no. We remain one of the only farms in the United States currently doing this, but we hope to show the value of creating an ideal fertility plan. Today, we have a simple computer program to compare our data. As farmers continue to accumulate more data off their farms, they will improve yields, lower costs per bushel and be more efficient with all their resources. Comparing yields to soil test data is one of those steps. It has been an absolute game-changer on our farm, and it will be on countless farms in the next few years.
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Get Biofuel The movement to educate all drivers to FUEL BEYOND By Holly Jessen Growth Energy is leading a new consumer campaign, called Get Biofuel, about the benefits of making good choices at the pump. It aims to educate all drivers about biofuel’s power to reduce emissions and that a 15 percent blend can be used in essentially every car on the road today. “The idea is it’s a fuel that’s beyond what you’ve ever thought about,” said Josh McGuire, partner and head of creative for Cullen+Rose LLC, a marketing and consulting company working with Growth Energy on the campaign. A national consumer awareness campaign is something Growth Energy has long wanted to do, said Kelly Manning, Vice President of Development for Growth Energy, but the association needed to prioritize imperatives like legislative work and battles to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard, among other things. “This was always one of our priorities, but it got shoved out of the priority bucket,” he said. “Now it’s too important. We’re going to put it back in.”
“The idea is, it’s a fuel that’s beyond what you’ve ever thought about.” Josh McGuire, Partner and Head of Creative for Cullen+Rose LLC
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Elizabeth Funderburk, Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs for Growth Energy, agreed. The association has done work to educate drivers, she said, pointing to the partnership with NASCAR, which helps address the performance aspect of bioethanol. That is important and will continue. However, NASCAR reaches a niche audience, whereas the Get Biofuel campaign will cast a much wider net. “It’s nothing this industry has done before, it truly is unprecedented,” she said. “It’s fun, it’s fresh, it’s a new way to really promote what we all truly believe around the benefits of biofuels with this larger audience. If anything, it’s past due.” The visuals of the campaign are focused on nature and connecting biofuel to the environment. McGuire pointed out that many vehicles have been named after nature for a long time, listing off Rams, Mustangs, Beetles, Broncos, Impalas and Jaguars to name a few. “Nature and the creatures within it are truly amazing,” he said. “We admire them. Want to feel a connection to them. Want to take care of them. And we want them to be there for our children and future generations.” Ironically, however, cars haven’t done much to help nature out, he added. But the Get Biofuel campaign sets out to help drivers feel good about fueling up at the pump by demonstrating that bioethanol fuels much more than just cars—it fuels positivity. “By choosing a cleaner fuel, you can become a part of the climate change solution,” he said. “A simple change changes everything. Change fuel. FUEL BEYOND.” Good News About Biofuel The pilot program kicked off on Earth Day, April 22, and will wrap up July 15. It’s happening in Raleigh, N.C., where consumers can purchase E15, also known as Unleaded 88, and Salt Lake City, Utah, which doesn’t have any E15 pumps, although some retailers are considering offering it, Manning said. Data gathered during that phase of the campaign will be used to further shape the three-year national campaign, which will begin in the fall. The word “biofuel” is the focus of the campaign. That’s because market research has shown consumers react very positively to “biofuel” compared to other terms, like “ethanol.” Rest assured bioethanol will still be part of the messaging, Manning said. Consumers will be educated about the benefits of purchasing “biofuels like bioethanol.” Market development efforts focused on E15 and higher blends will continue alongside the campaign as well. Get Biofuel will highlight the fact that 98 percent of all fuel sold in the U.S. already contains 10 percent bioethanol and that, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, nine out of 10 cars on the road today can use higher blends like E15. It will also educate drivers that biofuel is made from plants and can reduce a vehicle’s carbon emissions by 46 percent compared to straight gasoline. Get Biofuel will be funded by bioethanol producers, industry vendors, agricultural groups and more. Growth Energy has talked with numerous stakeholders about the campaign. “They all come back with positive feelings, desire to join this effort and make it even bigger,” Manning said. “It just feels right.”
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Reaching Consumers Get Biofuel will include a lot of online advertisements like display advertising as well as commercials on streaming platforms like Hulu, YouTube and more. Social media influencers are an important part of the strategy as well. “Part of it is connecting consumers with people who already understand the biofuel story, who can help consumers understand it as well,” McGuire said. “Because there is a learning curve.”
Get Biofuel will also highlight biofuel’s accessibility and affordability. Most people don’t have the money to purchase an electric vehicle today, for example, but they can reduce emissions with their current vehicle by fueling up with biofuel. “It really is something that everyday Americans can get behind. It’s one of the changes you can make right now and with what you have,” McGuire said.
A docuseries, a documentary-style TV show, is also in the planning stages. The group is working on the idea with James Marshall, a television producer who worked on The American Dream Project and American Doers. “He road tripped across the U.S. and highlighted real stories of people who were building their American dream,” said Stephanie Spero, partner and director of media for Cullen+Rose.
Lockdowns due to COVID-19 provided a massive opportunity, Manning said, because when cities shut down, air quality immediately improved. A report released by Growth Energy in December 2020 shows that if the U.S. transitioned to E15 for all 2001 and later model vehicles, greenhouse gas emissions would decrease by 17.62 million tons per year. “Why not adopt E15 nationwide tomorrow and reduce emissions across the board?” he asked. “It’s such an easy solution.”
Called The American Green Project, the docuseries would be an entertaining and educational show that would air on a streaming platform. It would highlight innovators in the biofuel and agricultural space, working to help the planet. “It’s meant to be one of those perception-changers,” McGuire said.
One of the goals of the campaign is for consumers to pledge they will use biofuel because they care about the environment or demand it if they don’t have access to it where they live. It’s similar, Funderburk said, to consumers who switch from plastic grocery bags to reusable bags. “At the end of the day,this is about driving demand,” she said.
“Although the campaign is targeting all drivers 20 years old and up, the growth audience has been identified as young moms and millennials. Many millennials are ecoactivists who care about the choices they make and how their purchases impact the environment” McGuire said.
Fortunately, the political climate and increasing consumer interest in making an environmental difference makes now a terrific time for a campaign to build awareness about the benefits of biofuels. “We’re really excited about the timeliness of getting that story told,” she said.
“Helping the planet, helping the climate, that’s something that millennials really align with,” Spero added.
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E15 Economic Impact Study
Shifting from E10 to E15 Increasing the amount of bioethanol in our fuel has significant ripple effects on many aspects of state and local economies.
Increased Gross Domestic Product (GDP) The economic activity generated by shifting to E15 in the highlighted states would add more than $3.6 billion to Midwestern states’ GDP, including boosting household income by $1.16 billion, and generating $319 million in state and local tax revenue. The largest economic impacts are the indirect business-to-business transactions connected to the increased demand for E15.
$3.6 BILLION IN ADDITIONAL GDP $575.8 MILLION
IL IN IA KS MI MN MO NE ND OH SD WI
$377.3 MILLION $140.7 MILLION $170.7 MILLION $529.8 MILLION $313.1 MILLION $372.6 MILLION $96.5 MILLION $44.8 MILLION $649.7 MILLION $44.7 MILLION $309.7 MILLION 0
Economic activity directly related to its day-to-day operations. Ex.) gas stations, biorefineries, etc. 36 |
Economic activity generated separate from the day-to-day operations. Ex.) farmers, contruction companies
Economic activity as a result of the direct and indirect influence. Ex.) Restaurants, real estate, clothing store, etc.
Wisconsin South Dakota
Additional Bioethanol State Sales A 50% increase in the amount of bioethanol at the pump would supercharge production across the Midwest — creating demand for an additional 1.4 billion gallons of homegrown fuel. Communities and local economies would benefit from the construction of new biorefineries, plant expansions and major capital investments.
North Dakota (21 Mil)
1.4 BILLION GALLONS
Missouri (148 Mil)
Increased Corn Demand Today, approximately 40% of the nation’s corn is used for bioethanol and value-added coproducts. Shifting from E10 to E15 across the Midwest would drive demand for an additional 505 million bushels of corn. E15 would also boost incomes for family farmers, balance the market by utilizing surplus grain and protect hometown jobs that cannot be shipped overseas.
Illinois 77 MILLION
Indiana 51 MILLION
505 MILLION BUSHELS
Nebraska 15 MILLION
Iowa 23 MILLION
22 MILLION $78.3 MILLION
Michigan 78 MILLION
dollars to farmers
South Dakota 8 MILLION
Minnesota 43 MILLION
Corn Use for E15 (bushels)
Corn Use for E15 ($)
*Dollar estimates based on a corn price of $3.55
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PRIME THE PUMP
C-Stores Stand Ready to Offer E15 Nationwide E15 compatible with nearly all existing fuel infrastructure By Steve Lang For the 2,300 C-stores across the country that currently carry E15, it’s the fuel’s bottom-line positives that have given those owners an advantage over their competitors. E15—often marketed at fuel stations as Unleaded 88—costs less (often three to 10 cents per gallon less than regular), offers higher octane and gives consumers more choices. But for those owners and customers who care about the big picture, E15 also burns cleaner, reduces reliance on foreign oil, provides a critical market for American farmers and creates high-quality rural jobs. For those C-stores considering adding E15, it’s “a few relatively simple, short steps from a regulation standpoint,” according to Chris Bliley, Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at Growth Energy, the country’s leading biofuel trade association. E15, says Bliley, is compatible with nearly all existing fuel infrastructure nationwide, like storage tanks and dispensing equipment. “Almost all underground storage tanks made in the last 30 years are compatible with up to 100% bioethanol,” says Bliley. “The dispensing equipment made in the last 12 years is compatible. And E15 is a federally approved fuel, so it’s covered under existing policies just as any other fuel would be, whether it’s diesel or gasoline or kerosene, whatever the fuel that a traditional C-store may sell.” Petroleum manufacturers have been producing equipment compatible for blends above 10 percent bioethanol—everything from hoses to dispensers to nozzles—since the 1980s. Many fuel storage terminals now offer pre-blended E15, so it’s the competitive choice even for stores that don’t do onsite blending. And retailers can easily and inexpensively swap out E10 or mid-grade fuel blends for E15. Those qualities make adding E15 a quick and affordable option for C-store owners—and consumers want E15. Americans bought a record 500 million gallons of E15 in 2019. They drove a record six billion miles on E15 in 2020. C-stores have followed that trend; the number of retail sites selling E15 grew by 10 percent in 2020. From Kwik Trip to QuikTrip, from Casey’s to Kum & Go, major C-store chains continue to add Unleaded 88 to their lineup. Sheetz, a chain of family-owned convenience stores based in Pennsylvania, now carries E15 in more than 300 of their 618 stores across six states. “Sheetz has always stood for consumer choice, and it’s a company that also cares about the environment and American jobs,” says Mike Lorenz, a fuel industry expert and former Executive Vice President of Petroleum Supply at Sheetz. “Unleaded 88 allows us to offer a value-
added product since it’s lower priced, higher octane and cleaner burning while supporting American jobs.” The quality and reliability of E15 is unquestionable, says Mike O’Brien, Vice President of Market Development at Growth Energy. “Consumers have now driven 20 billion miles on the road using E15 without a single incident of fuel issues,” he says. “And that’s after six million miles of testing before the fuel was actually approved. We’re talking about the most tested, and maybe most reliable, fuel in the history of this country.” As for environmental benefits, a recent Growth Energy report determined that if E15 replaced E10 nationwide, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 17 million tons per year. That’s the equivalent of removing nearly four million vehicles from the road. And bioethanol itself was recently proven to be 46% lower in greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline, a number that is improving every year. “Convenience store owners, especially the retail leaders, always look for ways to
differentiate themselves,” says Bliley. “They have found that E15 gives their consumers more options and gives them a price advantage. That’s why they have really embraced the fuel. Beyond that, they know that more and more customers are looking for things like the benefits to farmers and the environmental aspects.” The process of carrying E15, says Bliley, is just like that of adding or changing any other fuel in a C-store’s lineup, and one that most owners are already familiar with. The initial tasks—filing paperwork with the EPA, joining a fuel sampling program—are considered to be the “big pieces,” says Bliley. “But even those big pieces are easy to navigate.” And Growth Energy is available to help C-store owners every step of the way. “We work with retailers and with the EPA to fill out paperwork and answer any questions,” says Bliley. “I think people assume it’s a much bigger mountain to climb. But selling E15 is every bit as simple as what they’re doing today with 87 or E10. You buy it, put it in the tank. You price it, dispense it out of your dispenser, and away you go.”
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POET to Launch Film on Environmental Benefits of Biofuels Documentary-style film, produced for POET by BBC StoryWorks Commercial Productions, premiering in June. By Janna Farley Steve Sinning comes from a long line of farmers. His father was a farmer. His grandfather was a farmer. Even his great-grandfather was a farmer. “I’ve been farming since the mid-’70s,” Sinning said. “But it’s really been all my life. I grew up on a farm—the same farm I’m on today. Dad grew up here, too. I’m a fourthgeneration farmer, and my son will be the fifth.” For decades, Sinning’s family has played a vital role in putting food on America’s table. But today, they’re helping meet America’s energy needs, too. “Almost all my corn these days goes to the POET ethanol plant,” Sinning said. “We need to do everything we can to save our climate and promote agriculture, and the best way to do that is through bioethanol.” Bioethanol is a biofuel—a clean-burning, renewable alternative to fossil fuel—and its benefits are tremendous. Sinning said that being able to pump more gallons of affordable, higher-octane fuel made from Americangrown corn is a benefit that can’t be beat. But what many people don’t realize is that the environmental benefits of biofuels extend far beyond the pump.
“We need to do everything we can to save our climate and promote agriculture, and the best way to do that is through bioethanol.” Steve Sinning
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That’s the message behind a short documentary-style film produced for POET by BBC StoryWorks, the commercial content division of BBC Global News, and presented by the International Council of Biotechnology Associations as part of its Nature’s Building Blocks series. Sinning is featured in the film, along with Bill Gibbons, the Associate Dean for Research at South Dakota State University’s College of Agriculture, and Jeff Broin, Founder and CEO of POET. The Nature’s Building Blocks series explores the ways in which biotechnology is helping to heal, fuel and feed the world and promotes public understanding of the continued innovation in the human health, agriculture, industrial and environmental sectors while examining the role of biotechnology in solving some of the world’s greatest environmental and health challenges. “The short, documentary-style commercial films for Nature’s Building Blocks are solutionsfocused,” said Gemma Jennings, Head of Global Partnerships for Programme Partnerships BBC StoryWorks. “It starts by contextualizing the problem, or need for a solution, before exploring how that solution works and who could benefit. Within this storytelling approach, it’s important that the challenges and limitations are presented, and the scale of the solution considered. At the center of each film is an interesting human story that would be engaging to audiences and shine a light on new technologies.” Biofuels, POET’s film explains, are a real catalyst for sustainable agriculture, and the biofuels industry is also an outlet through which agriculture is helping to solve global problems like climate change. Simply put, POET’s philosophy is that everything you can get from a barrel of oil you can get from a bushel of corn—it’s simply a matter of biotechnology and economics. “Think of a cornstalk,” Broin said. “The leaves act as the solar panel, and energy is transferred from the sun into the corn kernels and the biomass, which can be stored indefinitely—so they become nature’s battery.” Years ago, people argued that it took more energy to produce bioethanol than the amount of energy you’d get from the bioethanol itself. But that’s wrong, Gibbons said. “Energy is never created or destroyed. It just changes form.” Bioethanol production is very sustainable. “When the fuels are made from biomass and the fuel is burned and the carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere, the next year that same carbon dioxide goes back into producing the next crop of plants that are used,” Gibbons said. That’s the opposite of what happens when petroleum is extracted from the earth and burned to generate energy, Gibbons said.
Upper: Jeff Broin prepares for an interview with BBC StoryWorks | Bottom Left: Steve Sinning explains the relationship between farming and biofuels | Bottom Right: POET lab where BBC Storyworks biofuel research is conducted Middle Right: Farmers load corn onto a trailer to be sold vitalbypoet.com | 4 3
When carbon is added back into the soil, it helps improve the water holding capacity of the soil. Doing so helps optimize crop production. “Ag production is greatly improved and crops have improved leaps and bounds,” Gibbons said. “We’re continually improving the system as we’re using the system.” On top of that, there’s virtually no waste from producing bioethanol. “We use the starch to produce the bioethanol portion, and then we still have remaining the protein, oil and micronutrients,” Broin said. “The protein goes mostly to animal feed all over the world. We have renewable carbon dioxide that ends up in soda; it ends up in beer; it ends up in welding gas. And in addition, we have corn oil, which today goes mostly to biodiesel and in the future will go to renewable diesel fuel. How’s that for exciting? We now have biofuels as a byproduct of biofuels.” It’s about working in sync with the system, not against it—and the potential is virtually untapped. “We’re making as much as we can out of what nature provides. Mother Nature has
things figured out a lot better than we do,” Gibbons said. “We can go in there and tinker, and we can screw things up. But Mother Nature had it figured out all along. It’s better to work with nature than to force our way of thinking onto nature.” Looking ahead, there’s no question that society will be able to replace everything it gets from fossil fuels or hydrocarbons with products from the surface of the Earth, Broin said. And bioethanol is the best place to start. “The great thing about bioethanol is it’s available today, and it’s affordable. It’s certainly a solution for every car that’s on the road,” Broin said. “While others are working on solutions to fight climate change, this is one that we use today that everyone can afford.” For farmers like Sinning, being a part of that is something to be proud of. “Ethanol is a renewable energy together with agriculture and good for our carbon footprint for the climate,” he said. “It’s for all of us.”
that’s tied corn and and good important
How to Watch POET’s short film in the Nature’s Building Blocks series will be launched as part of BIO Digital 2021, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology community. All films will be available to watch on June 16 on www.naturesbuildingblocksseries.com.
opportunity is everywhere if you know where to look
At POET, the workday ends, but the work never does. We’re using renewable resources and our endless passion to create biofuels, nutrient-rich protein and oil alternatives.
PEOPLE OF POET
Adam Wirt General Manager with a passion for farming builds a long-term career at POET By Andrea Van Essen Adam Wirt always thought his career would revolve around his family farm. He planned to join the business after college, but upon graduating from South Dakota State University with a degree in agricultural systems technology, Wirt hit a snag in the timeline. With his uncle, father and grandfather all still farming, there wasn’t room for him yet. He needed a job in the meantime, and down the road in Chancellor—within sight and earshot of the farm—a POET plant was being built. Wirt applied as a front-line operator, intending to bide his time until his grandfather retired. However, plans change; Wirt celebrated 18 years with POET in March. It was a willingness to explore opportunities within the company that allowed Wirt to work his way up from that operator role to his current position as General Manager of the Hudson plant, gathering varied experiences along the way. When he got started back in 2003, the bioethanol industry was booming, and POET was building plants rapidly. “There was kind of a void of experienced personnel to hire as we started new plants and right about that time, we were starting one in Hanlontown, Iowa, and I was approached for a night shift supervisor position,” Wirt said. Just 14 months after starting in Chancellor, he faced a career-altering decision. “For me, the choice to farm or create a career at POET happened at that point,” he said. Taking the night shift supervisor position would set him up for a future role as an operations manager, but it would require moving away from the farm and putting that vision on hold, possibly long-term. Wirt took the gamble on a career, and it was just months later that he was recruited for the Operations Manager role in Hudson. Eager to get back to South Dakota, he took the job and has lived on the same acreage with his wife, Melissa, and their daughters ever since. His path within the company hasn’t been entirely linear, though. After almost four years in Hudson, Wirt took a position as a Field Operations Specialist out of Sioux Falls. He then moved to the Biomass Manager and Biomass Logistics Director roles before returning to plant management as General Manager of POET Research Center in Scotland, S.D. “When I talk to team members about their careers and where they want to go, I like to say, ‘You can go anywhere you want to.’ I’m proof of that,” he said. “You’ve got to work hard, believe you can do it and put in the effort. Opportunities are endless in our organization, but you’ve got to be willing to be flexible, to move and to try new things.”
Starting a new role amid a pandemic Wirt had the opportunity to return to Hudson as the General Manager in February 2020, right on the heels of COVID-19’s arrival in the United States. As General Manager, the early days on the job are all about getting to know your crew—a task made exponentially more difficult by masks, social distancing and virtual meetings. Fortunately for Wirt, many of his team members were already familiar with him from his prior role in Hudson. “I felt extremely benefitted in coming back to a site where I’d previously worked with every single leader except one,” he said. “It shortened up my window to build trust with them and to establish those intimate relationships we need to lead in the way that I think is important.” As he continues in the role, Wirt’s goals are to challenge his team to reach higher aspirations and help new leaders grow. “This
company has supported all the things I’ve ever needed in terms of career growth, but most importantly, I believe in what we’re doing. We support agriculture, and I get to support something that’s supported my family its whole life.” Staying connected to farming Though he didn’t end up joining his family operation full-time, Wirt has kept his hands in the industry, both at POET and in his free time. He lives just 20 miles from the farm his dad and sister now run, and on most weekends, you can find him over there helping out. “Part of our farming business is that we raise pigs and lambs for Future Farmers of America and 4-H projects for kids, so I run the sheep side of our family business,” he said. Wirt’s daughters, Jovie (13) and Emerson (10) are also involved in showing livestock competitively—both pigs and lambs.
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Beyond spending free time at the family farm, Wirt has utilized his background and perspective across various projects at POET. “I’ve been somebody that folks in leadership will tap periodically when we’re talking about what’s happening in the farming space,” he said. “I like being able to take what I garner from the little farming that I do and bring it back to help guide business decisions. I like to think I can bring a pretty quick litmus test to the table of whether something sounds doable or not.” Wirt has worked on several special projects with POET’s founder and CEO, Jeff Broin, and he has been involved in research efforts such as the potential benefits of high-oil corn or exploring farming practices that could lower the industry’s carbon intensity in innovative ways. It’s opportunities like this that have allowed Wirt to blend his two career paths seamlessly. “This business is centralized in agriculture, the avenue I wanted to be in, and by working in this field, I’m supporting others who can hopefully go down that path and be the next generation of farmers or producers,” he said. “Hopefully, because we’re here, maybe we can open the door to help and support them in their journey. That’s something that motivates me—helping our local schools, towns and growers—that’s why I get excited to show up every day. It’s the impact we get to have on our community.”
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POET and Princeton Inspire Students to Design a ‘Net-Zero America’ By Matt Merritt It is clear that our world is facing severe environmental and climate problems; droughts, floods and other natural disasters become more common and more destructive each year. We have heard goals under efforts like the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Accord and most recently, the Clean Energy Revolution proposed by President Joe Biden. While we have made some progress, the weight of the work that remains to achieve a carbon-neutral economy looks daunting. But at Princeton University, students are preparing to shoulder the load. Undergraduate students at Princeton are tapping into the real-world experience of POET and other companies in the midst of the climate fight today. They are learning that it takes more than new technology to solve our world’s issues; it requires a coordinated effort across dozens of fields to find success. Rapid Switch: The Energy Transition Challenge to a Low-Carbon Future is a small class with big aspirations. Eight students are divided into three groups, each tasked with outlining a comprehensive plan for their hypothetical company to play a role in reaching a zero-carbon economy by 2050. More than technology Each group in the class has an outside advisor working in the clean-energy industry today. Dave Bushong, Senior Vice President of Research at POET, is one of those advisors. Bushong meets via videoconferencing every other week with a group of three students. Their hypothetical company is, in fact, named “POET,” but their technology converts biomass into hydrogen fuel.
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“The idea is to put them into an environment where they’re mimicking the real world in terms of trying to make a big change in the energy system.” Eric Larson, Senior Research Engineer – Princeton University
Bushong says the technology itself is not what the exercise is about. It is about looking at a solution in a comprehensive way to factor in things like politics, stakeholder concerns and land-use issues. “We’ve talked about biomass collection and how did we do that at (the cellulosic biofuel plant) LIBERTY,” he says. “Different stakeholders, different approaches, it’s really been a mixture of technical information kind of married up with public policy and this goal to get to net-zero carbon emissions.” Eric Larson, Senior Research Engineer at the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment at Princeton University, is one of the course leaders. He says undergraduate students often do not get a practical understanding of how their course of study fits into the larger picture. “The idea is to put them into an environment where they’re mimicking the real world in terms of trying to make a big change in the energy system,” he says.
Net-Zero America The class is modeled on a study that Larson coauthored last year titled “Net-Zero America.” “Net-Zero America” shows how President Biden’s plan for a net-zero economy by 2050 could be accomplished. Net-Zero America outlines five potential pathways for the U.S. to decarbonize its economy using a mix of technologies in existence today. Each scenario calls for spending in the historical range of what the U.S. spends on energy, roughly $1 trillion per year over the next decade. Larson says in the last five years—since the Paris Accord—there has been an increased sense of concern about climate issues. “The goals that were set for the world were pretty ambitious at that time,” he says. “And then it came to be understood that if we’re going to meet those goals, we have to be getting on the stick and doing something pretty substantial, like now, and continue that effort going forward.” The public conversation, policy, research and the direction of university courses reflect that, he said. Making it real By pulling in outside experts in the clean energy industry, Larson says students have access to knowledge that would be difficult or impossible to get from a textbook or the internet. “The practical knowledge, it would take hours of research in the library for a student to come up with numbers that Dave can produce off the top of his head,” he says. “Sometimes we get into some real detail like the challenges of handling biomass—especially corn stover, where it’s not a dense material— and the options around densification and
transportation and storage,” Bushong says. “They get those things right away. They pick up on those things almost instantly.” Many of the discussions touch on aspects outside of the technology, such as working with farmers on a personal level, communications and politics. “Your industry needs champions,” Bushong says. “I used examples like Senator Thune in South Dakota, Senator Grassley and how impactful they can be as the senior senators in the area that you’re developing. In any project, you’ve got to have that public policy champion.” For the students, working through the challenges of politics and society has been one the most enlightening aspects of the course. Mechanical engineering student Chris Ferrigine says they think about everyone who could be affected by a project, from “congressmen and women down to the local surfing community.” “It’s become apparent that you need so much more in your skill set than fluid mechanics or whatever you’re learning in class,” Ferrigine said. “You need to be able to do these other things, financial or public relations, because if you don’t, then the magnitude of the renewable shift that we’re trying to achieve won’t be accomplished, or at least you won’t be a part of it.” Jane Brown, a chemical and biological engineering student, hasn’t settled on her career. The course has enlightened her about the number of different jobs needed to transition to a clean economy. “I’m optimistic that there will be some way in which I’ll be able to contribute in the future,” she says.
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Students walk to class at Princeton University located in Princeton, New Jersey
A challenge to the next generation Both Ferrigine and Brown say they feel pressure for their generation to take a significant role in fixing the climate problems facing this world. Both were raised to understand everyone has a responsibility to be part of the solution. Brown says she has always felt that she should take care of the environment out of simple respect for our world. But the truth is, it is in humanity’s own best interests. “It’s a completely selfish issue,” she says. “It’s our future that’s on the line.” Bushong thinks they are well equipped to handle it. “It’s fun just to see how smart they are and interested in this topic,” he says. “It gives you a lot of hope for the future to see these smart young people dedicated to improving the environment and reducing our carbon emissions.”
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Biden’s Infrastructure Plan & the Biofuel Opportunity By Jessica Sexe On March 31, President Biden released the American Jobs Plan, a $2.7 trillion national infrastructure and innovation plan. In addition to a $5 billion increase in funding for other climate-focused research, this plan would invest $15 billion in demonstration projects for climate research and development priorities, including biofuels and bioproducts. While biofuels were a part of the initial proposal under the American Jobs Plan, a coalition of bipartisan lawmakers have called for even more inclusion of low-carbon biofuels. In a letter to House leadership and committee chairs, U.S. Congresswoman Cindy Axne (D-Iowa) asked for an increase in biofuels investments and tax incentives in infrastructure legislation: “Adding investments to grow biofuels energy infrastructure and incentives to further innovation and adoption of this homegrown American energy source would support the economies of rural communities across our country, encourage innovations that will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and ensure that American farmers and producers are part of the economic revitalization that our infrastructure legislation will generate.” During testimony from Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Congresswoman Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) stated, “As we are looking at transportation of the future, I think there is a real opportunity there with some innovative and promising new transportation technologies. I just want to say I encourage you to be prioritizing biofuel producers in those conversations. They are ready and willing to come to the table on those. They have a clean, renewable source of fuel for Americans and the world.” Indeed, there is a tremendous opportunity for biofuels, like bioethanol, to take a central role in helping the nation upgrade its infrastructure, address climate change and support rural communities. Earlier this year, a new report from the Rhodium Group, a leading independent climate analysis firm, showed that low-carbon biofuels will play a key role in achieving the administration’s goal to cut GHG emissions by 50-52% from 2005 levels by 2030. A recent report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) showed that bio-based fuels are expected to contribute more to reducing global emissions in the decades ahead than any other technology. At the Growth Energy Executive Leadership Conference, EPA Administrator Michael Regan signaled his support for biofuels. “Renewable fuels are part of the solution to curb greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. Over the past decade the RFS program has played an essential role in driving the development and use of cleaner biofuels. That will continue during
“Renewable fuels are part of the solution to curb greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. Over the past decade the RFS program has played an essential role in driving the development and use of cleaner biofuels. That will continue during the Biden-Harris administration,” Michael Regan, EPA Administrator
the Biden-Harris administration,” said Regan. “I see ethanol as a significant part of a clean fuel future.” Research and development and continuous innovation has fueled great environmental progress, allowing biofuel producers and farmers to ramp up production year after year—without expanding their environmental footprint. Since 2007, bioethanol has been responsible for cumulative carbon dioxide savings of 600 million metric tons in the U.S., or the equivalent of removing 130 million cars from the road, roughly half of our nation’s fleet. Biofuels can help reduce emissions today, and the innovations being driven by biofuel producers and farmers will continue to reduce the carbon intensity of liquid fuels. U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm agreed that biofuels of today have already created significant emissions reductions in the transportation sector: “We have got a whole biofuels and bioenergy team that is working on this. You mentioned the Argonne study. I am glad that you asked about this. Electric vehicles have emerged as this great technology for light-duty vehicles and cars and SUVs and pickups, but the heaviest duty transportation modes that really need the energy density of liquid fuels, which is where biofuels will play a critical role.”
Investments in the biofuels sector represent investments in good-paying, green jobs, which is critical to the prosperity of our nation’s rural communities. Regarding the American Jobs Plan, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack stated: “And true to his commitment to invest in American manufacturing and working families, the President’s plan makes once-in-a-lifetime investments to retool and revitalize American manufacturers and small businesses. This investment in manufacturing will allow an expansion of bio-based products and renewable fuel production, giving U.S. growers and producers another market for their goods and supporting good-paying American jobs.” With the competing priorities facing our country’s leaders and very slim majorities in the House and Senate, it’s difficult to know if a comprehensive infrastructure package will pass both chambers and make it to the President’s desk for his signature. But as long as there is a package that is being debated, POET will advocate for more biofuels support to be included. We stand ready to work with the Biden administration and leaders in Congress to ensure low-carbon biofuels, like bioethanol, are an integral part of efforts to address climate change, reduce transportation emissions, improve air quality and create economic opportunities in rural America.
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OUT OF LEFT FIELD
Life is Not a Destination Apparently By Scott Johnson, A Thinker of Thoughts I’ve gone on a lot of walks this past year, more than all previous years combined. It’s not that I had more places to go or more things to do. These were just regular, old, casual, leisurely moseys around the neighborhood with my family. I’d never really been a fan of “going for a walk.” I felt it was pointless meandering, absent of a defined challenge or goal. It seemed like a lot of time and effort for very little practical use. (This is coming from a guy who’s watched an entire NFL preseason game before.) Nevertheless, the humble walk had become a regular family activity to end the day. Early on, I found justification for this otherwise futile task by convincing myself it was a game. My fitness tracker was happy to facilitate the scorekeeping. The walk helped me achieve a (surely in no way arbitrary) goal of 8,562 daily steps. The psychologically rewarding buzz of my watch invoked a Pavlovian response, and I’d celebrate a victory in silence. But eventually, the novelty of an eight-bit graphic fireworks display on my watch wore off, and it became apparent that the number of steps I took during the walk wasn’t the intended purpose of the activity. It took me a while, but I slowly embraced the secret serenity of our simple strolls. While we plodded through our neighborhood, I found myself immersed in the wonder of the wander. I noticed encouraging chalk messages on the sidewalk, seemingly meant just for me, that would only survive until the next rainstorm erased them. I heard the hoot of an owl I never knew lived in our area. We had engaging conversations we’d never had before. We literally stopped to smell the roses along the journey, while our dogs stopped to smell absolutely everything else. We peered into neighbors’ houses as we walked by with newfound appreciation and insight. (Not in a creepy way. More in a “Hey, they have the same kitchen cabinet handles that we have!” sort of way.) Without the burden of predetermined objectives, I could see our neighborhood in a whole new way. The walks were not timed or measured or otherwise quantified. The experiences we had along the way were only realized by being present in the moment—by clearing distractions and quieting the mind. I’ve always had difficulty achieving that level of tranquility. In a constant on-the-go, resultsdriven, goal-oriented world, I’ve found it hard to embrace any activity that removed the focus from an explicit mission. But that’s exactly what these family walks demanded from me—to ignore a mission altogether and appreciate the experience itself. In fact, like most soccer games, our walks (done right) were completely goal-less. The walks helped me connect deeper with my family, nature and my inner self (whom I hadn’t gotten to know very well, but he seems pretty cool). The humble nightly walk became the perfect activity to remind me that life is a journey, not a destination. 58 |
vitalbypoet.com | 5 9
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