Science & Technology
Administration urged to support biodiesel PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 15 November 2013 14:03

BIOFUELS: Murray, Franken, Blunt, Grassley Lead 28 Colleagues Urging Administration to Support American Biodiesel Industry

Growing biodiesel industry supports more than 62,000 American jobs, nearly $17 billion in annual economic impact

Biodiesel and other advanced biofuels increase energy security, reduce American dependence on foreign oil

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Al Franken (D-MN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) led 28 of their Senate colleagues in a bipartisan letter urging the Obama Administration to support the American biodiesel industry in its upcoming 2014 regulatory proposal for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  Current projections indicate that the industry will produce 1.7 billion gallons of biodiesel in 2014, continuing its pattern of exceeding annual RFS targets.  In light of the this production estimate, the Senators urged the Administration to carefully consider its 2014 biodiesel targets, which, if decreased or left stagnant at 2013 levels, could cost thousands of American jobs and significantly impact confidence in industry investments.

“Biodiesel has exceeded RFS targets in each year and is clearly poised to do so again in 2013.  The industry has had impressive growth, going far beyond initial expectations just five years ago, and is supporting 62,160 jobs and nearly $17 billion in total economic impact.  Biodiesel is improving our energy security by reducing our dependence on imported petroleum diesel, diversifying fuel supplies and creating competition in the fuels market,” the Senators wrote. “Setting the 2014 biodiesel volume requirement at reduced levels could have severe impacts on the domestic biodiesel industry.  Further, a continuation of 2013 levels paired with any reduction in advanced biofuels targets could similarly negatively impact the industry.”

The following Senators also signed on to the letter: Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Angus King (I-ME), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Jon Tester (D-MT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tom Udall (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

 

The full text of the letter can be read here:

 

November 14, 2013

 

The Honorable Gina McCarthy                       The Honorable Tom Vilsack

Administrator                                Secretary

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency                     U.S. Department of Agriculture

1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.                                1400 Independence Ave., S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20460                                Washington, D.C. 20250

 

The Honorable Sylvia Mathews Burwell

Director

Office of Management and Budget

725 17th Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20503

 

cc: The Honorable Howard Shelanski, Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

Dear Administrator McCarthy, Secretary Vilsack, and Director Burwell:

We write to encourage the Administration to develop a 2014 regulatory proposal for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that supports the current-year projected 1.7 billion gallons of U.S. biodiesel production.

Biodiesel has exceeded RFS targets in each year and is clearly poised to do so again in 2013.  The industry has had impressive growth, going far beyond initial expectations just five years ago, and is supporting 62,160 jobs and nearly $17 billion in total economic impact.  Biodiesel is improving our energy security by reducing our dependence on imported petroleum diesel, diversifying fuel supplies and creating competition in the fuels market.

Setting the 2014 biodiesel volume requirement at reduced levels could have severe impacts on the domestic biodiesel industry.  Further, a continuation of 2013 levels paired with any reduction in advanced biofuels targets could similarly negatively impact the industry.

Biodiesel is the only Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-designated advanced biofuel to achieve commercial-scale production nationwide and the first to reach 1 billion gallons of annual production.  Keeping the targets stagnant, rather than gradually allowing the biodiesel industry to grow, could leave 400 million gallons of biodiesel potentially unused – roughly 25 percent.  Such a cut could result in nearly every small facility shutting down and permanently ceasing production of biodiesel, leading to the loss of some 7,000 jobs.  Additionally, investment and financing for the U.S. biodiesel industry could be severely jeopardized, creating new and possibly insurmountable hurdles for the remaining producers to grow and expand.

In setting 2014 targets for biodiesel, the EPA should avoid outcomes that could lead to plant closures, worker layoffs, and uncertainty over future investments in the biodiesel industry.  We urge you to continue to support this fragile and growing industry with a reasonable increase in the RFS volume requirement for 2014.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

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3 Signs Leaders Need to Upgrade their ‘Software’ PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Richard Martin   
Thursday, 07 November 2013 15:38
In an Increasingly Globalized World, Cooperation is an
Imperative, says CEO & International Speaker

Whether we like it or not as Americans, the world is changing. Berny Dohrmann, an entrepreneur and international speaker, says we should like it.

“Embracing change is at the heart of the spirit of cooperation, which I believe to be at the heart of a solution to the problems plaguing humanity,” says Dohrmann, chairman and founder of CEO Space International, and author of “Redemption: The Cooperation Revolution,” (www.ceospaceinternational.com).

“Many of us have been taught that competition is the primary feature of our economic system; however, the most salient common denominator for all successful human interaction features is just the opposite – it is cooperation.”

Removing competitive thinking and replacing it with cooperative thinking opens us up to developing alliances that elevate what we do, rather than strategies that aim to take down our competitors, Dohrmann says.

“Cooperative thinking is the ultimate virus-removal program for the mind,” he says. “Cooperative action helps resolve individual problems and, in the long run, can resolve the problems of the entire world.”

Dohrmann describes some issues we face that would benefit from cooperative thinking:

• Republicans versus Democrats – a stalemate. We face massive problems -- terrorism, poverty, climate change, to name just a few. But our biggest problem lately has been agreeing upon the most basic functions of government, including paying our bills on time. Why? Because our federal congressional leaders view their roles as competitors, which demands that one group of them win and the other group lose. They value their competition over the welfare of their country and its citizens, who suffered lost wages, lost business, and lost access to crucial services.

• How will we deal with the major emerging economies that are developing? China, India and several countries in South America are among many emerging economies worldwide, which is why government and corporate leaders in America require a sea change in worldview. As Dohrmann puts it: “Cooperation produces speed in distribution of goods and services (social capital). Competition produces three speeds: slow, slower and damn near stopped. Cooperative investment rewards direction. Competition punishes it. Cooperative accounting rewards planning and this is in contrast to manipulated near-term profit illusions. Competition rewards hype. Cooperation rewards integrity. Competition rewards error. Cooperation rewards truth.”

• The largest growing city in the U.S. is prison. By a large margin, America has the highest incarceration rate of any country on Earth. In 2009, the number of adults under correctional supervision – including probation, parole, jail or prison –was 6,977,700. The prison population has quadrupled since 1980, mostly due to mandatory sentencing since the “war on drugs.” Almost 60 percent of America’s prison population, an industry in itself, is related to minor marijuana offenses, which is a drug that’s “far less harmful than over-the-counter meds or alcohol,” Dohrmann says. He cites the recent case of a Utah woman who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for possession of $32 of marijuana.

“This is a staggering dynamic of stupidity in our society,” he says. “Whether we like it or not, humans have taken chemicals to alter their experience since recorded history; it’s like we’ve declared war on human nature. There is certainly a better cooperative solution to this problem, and others.”

About Berny Dohrmann

Berny Dohrmann is chairman and founder of CEO Space International, one of the largest support organizations for business owners. He is the inventor of Super Teaching, a Title I technology that accelerates retention for public schools, and speaks on it around the world, at conferences and on TV programs. As a member of the Dohrmann family, which operated the largest global resort-outfitting firm as Dohrmann Hotel Supply for several generations, he grew up with several business mentors, including Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale, Walt Disney, Warner Earnhardt, Bucky Fuller, Dr. Edward Deming and Jack Kennedy. He has learned from both success and adversity: Indicted for criminal contempt for a $86,000 junk bund from an investment banking firm he had sold, he fought the charge in court, but lost in 1995 and went to prison for 18 months. He has since made a documentary about the experience.

 
Governor Quinn Announces $195,000 for Quad Cities Rest Area Wind Turbine PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Dave Blanchette   
Thursday, 07 November 2013 10:01

I-80 Rest Area Will Become State’s First to Generate its Own Power

HAMPTON – Governor Pat Quinn today announced a capital investment of $195,000 to construct a wind turbine to power a rest area along Interstate 80 in the Quad Cities. It will become the state’s first rest area to generate its own power through wind energy. The project is part of Governor Quinn’s commitment to moving the state toward energy independence using green technology.

“The best energy source is free, renewable and has little environmental impact – that perfectly describes wind energy,” Governor Quinn said. “Producing our own energy at this well-used rest area will reduce operational costs and serve as a model for other rest areas in the state.”

A wind turbine and associated equipment will be built at the Mississippi Rapids Rest Area along Interstate 80 northeast of Hampton, and should be operational in spring 2014. Located on a bluff just a short distance from the Mississippi River, the rest area is in an ideal location to take advantage of prevailing winds. The project, awarded to Laverdiere Construction, Inc. of Macomb for $195,682, will also include an informational kiosk so visitors can see the amount of power being generated to supply the 2,700-square-foot, two-story building’s energy needs. The 40,000 KWH/yr produced by the wind turbine should supply enough electricity to completely power the rest area on most days. The project will be managed by the Illinois Capital Development Board, and the rest area is administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

“As the Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, I am proud that we are able to manufacture wind turbines and also put them to use on a local project where they will provide self-sustaining power to a Rock Island County rest area near Hampton,” State Senator Mike Jacobs (D-Moline) said. “Bringing clean energy projects to the district will not only provide skilled labor jobs in the area, but also allow the state to reduce its costs while providing a necessary service along Interstate 80.”

“This investment creates construction jobs, adds to our local energy infrastructure and helps lower utility costs for taxpayers,” State Rep. Mike Smiddy (D-Hillsdale) said.

This project is part of Governor Quinn’s $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! program, which will support more than 439,000 jobs over six years. Illinois Jobs Now! is the largest capital construction program in Illinois history, and is one of the largest capital construction programs in the nation.

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Grassley, Fellow Senators Press for Action to Keep Robust Rural Broadband Infrastructure Improvements PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 12:01
WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley is among two dozen senators urging the newly confirmed Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Tom Wheeler, to take steps to allow for the continuation of broadband infrastructure investment in rural America.

“It’s vital that all Iowans have access to good and reliable communications services,” Grassley said.  “In today’s economy, opportunities for Iowans and our communities in business, economic development, education, health care and other areas are created by access to robust broadband.  The FCC and Congress should ensure that the service is available to all Iowans, including those in rural areas.”

Grassley, along with Senators Jon Tester, John Barrasso, Mark Pryor, Kelly Ayotte, Mark Begich, Deb Fischer, Max Baucus, Tim Johnson, James Inhofe, Robert Casey, Pat Roberts, Mark Udall, Michael Enzi, Jeanne Shaheen, Mike Crapo, Jeff Merkely , Lisa Murkowski, Michael Bennet, Saxby Chambliss, Heidi Heitkamp, Johnny Isakson, James Risch, Jerry Moran, John Hoeven and John Boozman, requested action from the FCC to immediately take steps to re-establish predictability, sufficiency and transparency in the Universal Service Fund program so that the small businesses that serve rural America can resume critical investments in rural broadband.

This letter is following up on other letters Grassley has sent to the FCC regarding this matter, several of which can be found here.

Following is a copy of the text of the letter.  Click here for a signed copy of the letter.

 

November 1, 2013

 

The Honorable Tom Wheeler

Federal Communications Commission

445 12th Street, SW

Washington, DC 20554

 

Dear Chairman Wheeler:

We commend the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for recently making changes to its 2011 Universal Service Fund (USF) reform order to begin the immediate deployment of broadband to rural areas served by price cap companies.  Additionally, we appreciate the FCC’s decision to temporarily relieve the impacts of Quantile Regression Analysis (QRA) on small rate-of-return carriers.  However, we remain concerned the reform order is limiting the ability of small rate-of-return carriers to provide rural consumers with the broadband service they need to compete in today’s global economy.

The 2011 USF reform order’s lack of predictability is resulting in declining private sector investment in hard-to-reach rural areas, which threatens the long-standing requirements that consumers in rural and high cost areas should have access to telecommunications and information services that are reasonably comparable to those services provided in urban areas.  We urge the Commission to take immediate steps to re-establish predictability, sufficiency and transparency in the USF program so that these small businesses can resume critical investments in rural broadband.  At the same time, we believe this process should neither upset nor slow implementation of Phase II of the Connect America Fund for consumers in areas served by larger carriers.

The Universal Service Fund provides small rate-of-return regulated telecom carriers with support to keep consumer rates affordable in high cost areas.  These small companies use a limited number of public and private loan programs to make long-term capital investments to expand the reach and effectiveness of broadband in hard-to-serve rural areas.  Both potential borrowers and lenders have indicated hesitation in moving forward with loans for broadband infrastructure improvements due to the uncertainties created by the reform order.

One of the main causes of uncertainty is the reform order’s Quantile Regression Analysis (QRA) approach to providing high-cost support for rural companies.  A recent analysis by former FCC Chief Economist Simon Wilkie underscores this uncertainty, noting that the QRA caps and redistributes USF support in arbitrary and unpredictable ways, fails to provide incentives for broadband deployment, and generates regulatory uncertainty that is discouraging investment.  While we appreciate the FCC’s recent steps to temporarily relieve the impacts of the QRA approach, more must be done to resolve the lingering uncertainty it creates.

The benefits to health, education and economic development from robust broadband infrastructure will be delayed or denied for many rural Americans unless the Commission finds a way to re-establish predictability and transparency in the USF program through re-examination of the QRA approach and other common-sense steps that enable rural carriers to respond to consumer demand for broadband.  We appreciate your attention to this matter, and we look forward to your response.

 
Governor Quinn Addresses Solar Power International Conference in Chicago PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Brooke Anderson   
Tuesday, 22 October 2013 08:24

Illinois Has 185 Solar Supply Companies and is Among Top 10 Solar-Friendly States

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today addressed the 2013 Solar Power International conference in Chicago, highlighting the major advances Illinois has made in promoting and developing sustainable energy sources in the state. Today’s address is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to protect our natural resources and ensure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.

“It is my pleasure to welcome the Solar Power International conference and its attendees from around the world,” Governor Quinn said. “In order to protect this great natural resource, we must educate ourselves and the world around us. In Illinois we understand the critical importance of solar energy and strengthening the industry to ensure a promising future for this innovative technology.”

Illinois is among the top 10 solar-friendly states based on solar power incentives, utility interconnection and metering policies. Governor Quinn has implemented standards that will require 25 percent of the state’s energy needs to be met by renewable energy by 2025, six percent of which must come from solar power.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Clean Energy Program builds upon Illinois’ significant potential for renewable power by offering services and incentives for residents and businesses. More than 1,700 clean energy rebates and grants have been awarded for solar, wind, biomass and biogas installations in Illinois. These $24 million in incentives have supported $100 million in solar project installations. There are 185 companies in the solar supply chain in Illinois that employ 1,700 workers. In Chicago, 45 companies focus on solar energy research and development, investment, installation and related professional services.

More than $27 million was invested in solar electric installations in Illinois in 2012, a 259 percent increase over the previous year. Average prices for residential and commercial solar systems in Illinois have fallen by 26 percent from 2011 to 2012 and the state’s solar capacity is currently enough to power 6,200 households.

Illinois’ focus on developing clean energy creates jobs, improves the environment, saves natural resources and increases the nation’s energy independence.

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