Address by Shirley Ball
President of the Ethanol Producers and Consumers
Producers and Consumers (EPAC) is a national non-profit association that supports
the production and use of ethanol as a clean, renewable resource.
I have been an ethanol advocate
for over 20 years, wearing different hats. Now EPAC, focusing on educational,
and promotional things.
Promotion and Educating about ethanol
is a fun job. It is such a positive issue, with solutions for problems in economics,
environment, and energy security. I am also a farmer, have been all my life, and
farming has not been so positive last 20 or so years. So, it is nice to be able
to focus on the pluses, and to be able to promote an agriculturally based fuel,
that has benefits, not only to farmers and agriculture, but also to the consuming
public and to taxpayers.
Thanks to RC&D for inviting
me to this workshop to talk about ethanol. Today, I want to give a crash course
on the basics. You might call it Ethanol 101.
Ethanol 101.The first thing to
know is that ethanol is NOT a new fuel. Henry Ford built his first cars to run
on ethanol, so it has been around for a long time. The petroleum industry gained
a foothold on supplying transportation fuel, and gas and Oil became our standard
fuel. But Ethanol has been used in situations, such as during the Second World
It was in the 1970s when the OPEC
nations put an embargo on oil coming into the US, that ethanol began the climb
that has brought it to the position it is in today.
When people hear that I work to
promote ethanol they say, "That sounds like a good idea. When do you think
that is going to catch on?" Well, it has caught on. Today, 14% to 15% of
US motor fuels contains a blend with ethanol. Ethanol is widely marketed across
the nation – in the 70s when oil was in short supply, it was used as an extender,
now it is used in some places to increase octane – and in other communities it
is used to clean up polluted air by decreasing auto emissions. Here in Montana,
ethanol blended fuel is sold at about 55 stations. Many of them are in the Northeast
and there is a list on the back table.
What is ethanol? It is an alcohol
fuel that can be made from grain, or anything that will ferment. The most predominant
grain that goes to ethanol is corn, but others, such as wheat, barley, milo and
grain sorghum, potatoes also work. Sugar cane and sugarbeet crops, will also work.
In Brazil, where they have had a national alcohol fuel program since 1975, they
make ethanol mainly from sugar cane. New technology will turn cellulose, trees,
switch grass, even garbage into ethanol.
If we in Montana were to make ethanol
from the wheat we raise, we could get 2½ gallons of ethanol from each 60 pound
bushel of wheat. Corn also gives a return of 2½ gallons of ethanol from each bushel
of corn that is used.
Not only will you get 2½ gallons
of ethanol from the process, you will also get 20 pounds of high protein distillers
grains. This distiller’s grain, or DDG, can be used as a wonderful protein supplement
for livestock feed. That DDG contains all the nutrients in the original grain.
All the protein, all the germ and vitamins are still there. The distiller’s grains
are now down to 1/3 of the original package. We started with a 60 pound bushel
of wheat and took all the starch out to become ethanol, and now have 20 pounds
of product that contains all of the nutrients.
We import a lot of high protein
livestock feed into our state, and we import petroleum products, and we export
our grain. How many times do we hear on the farm broadcast stations, "Wheat
prices are down due to no overseas markets, or due to overproduction"? And
oil prices will rise now that the OPEC nations have met and agreed to cut back
on production." And what about "the Reports on Feeder cattle leaving
Processing grain to Ethanol and
livestock feed could be the solution to all those depressing newscasts.
When you process the grain, in
addition to the ethanol and the DDG, you will also get carbon dioxide that can
be used in the food or beverage industry. Not all plants capture that gas, depending
on where they are and if they have a market for the product
Back to the basics of ethanol fuel,
now we have 2½ gallons of ethanol for each bushel, but what do we do with it.
Ethanol is not generally sold as straight ethanol, unless you are a race car driver.
When you pull up to a pump and it says ethanol, it also no doubt says, contains
10% ethanol. That is the common blend, It is a blend that is fully warranted by
all auto manufacturers. I said that one time and a lady said not in my new car.
And I offered to read the owner’s manual with her. Well, turns out her "new"
car was only new to her, and it was actually a 70 something model and it did say
"Do not use alcohol." Well there are more alcohol fuels than just ethanol,
and there have been problems with some of the other alcohol, such as methanol,
but the manual did not differentiate between which ones to use and which to not
use, but in the 70’s there were not many alcohols around. But, I will extend the
offer to you also, and read the manual with you so you can be assured you will
be with in the terms of your warranty by using the ethanol blended fuel. Some
auto manufacturers recommend the use of ethanol, for reasons of environment, or
to reach the motors octane needs.
When you blend 10% of 200 proof
ethanol with 90% gasoline, you will increase the octane points by 2½ to 3 points.
Straight ethanol is high in octane 111 to 114. That makes ethanol-blended fuel
good for the ping you might have been getting from other fuel. Ethanol than is
an octane enhancer, and if you remember the big push a few years back to get lead
out of gasoline, at that time, ethanol was utilized by some marketers as an octane
A side benefit to using ethanol
blend is that you will not need to use a gas-line antifreeze in the wintertime.
The ethanol in the fuel will pick up the water caused by condensation and carry
it out of the system. so think about that as a savings over the cost of buying
that little can of HEET.
That 10% blend of ethanol also
does good things for the environment. Ethanol contains oxygen, in fact, 35% oxygen,
making it an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels. As an oxygenated
fuel, it causes a more complete combustion of gasoline, resulting in fewer emissions.
The use of ethanol reduces carbon monoxide emissions by as much as 25%. It also
reduces other pollutants.
The Clean Air Act that was passed
in 1990 allowed the EPA to require certain communities in the nation that had
CO pollution to use oxygenated fuel to clean up that pollution. Missoula is one
of those communities. They started their program using another oxygenate, MTBE,
methyl tertiary butyl ether, and noticed health problems in people who were subjected
to auto emissions, such as drive in banks, etc. A public committee was appointed
by the city county health Board, and they determined that they still needed and
wanted to clean up the air, but not with MTBE. They decided that not enough testing
had been done to prove MTBE was a safe fuel, so switched instead to ethanol, and
have been happy with the program. Anchorage, Alaska also started out in the program
using the MTBE, and switched to ethanol blended fuel.
Too bad that other communities
did not take a lesson from Missoula and Anchorage, as now, in other places, California
especially, they are seeing the problems associated with MTBE. It has been in
the news a lot lately, I’m sure you have read about it. At least nine states have
passed laws that ban MTBE, and many more are looking at doing the same. This ban
is creating a huge market for ethanol
The question of course is being
raised, can the ethanol industry meet that demand? And the industry has answered
with a rousing yes. As of January 2001, there were 62 ethanol plants in the nation
either up and running or under construction. Those 62 plants will produce 2006
Million gallons of ethanol. I have a chart in a manual I have along. Since January
of 2001, I know of another 8 or 9 plants that have had groundbreaking and started
construction. Most are in the Midwest, South Dakota and North Dakota and some
are associated with a plant that is up and running. According to the renewable
fuels association in Washington DC, the industry has set record production each
month for the past nine months, and still growing. Fantastic response to a need.
Financing has become more easily
available to build plants. In part because of the market demand, in part because
of the high price of oil and truthfully, the low price of grain. Ethanol price
follows oil price, and the plants are showing better margins, so it is easier
to show lenders that there is a strong bottom line. And, the terrible tragedy
caused by terrorists has increased the public awareness that our nation has gone
down the wrong road, by becoming dependent on foreign oil. Transportation fuel
is a necessity, we need it, and if we do not have in here, we have to get it some
where. And pay for it. Paying foreign countries for oil has helped to finance
the wrong leaders. Too much of the money we pay for foreign oil is being used
How much better we got at least
some of our transportation fuel from our farms and as a nation supported our agricultural
communities with ethanol plants.
In addition to supporting our own
countrymen, we could be using a fuel that is renewable!!!! You know, the good
lord willing, year in and year out, we could have the feedstock available, instead
of using a product that will in time be depleted.
Minnesota heard this message, and
I consider that state a leader bringing about the use and production of ethanol.
Ethanol blend was first introduced into the twin cities, and about that time The
state Department of Agriculture began massive educational program about ethanol.
Putting up displays, speaking at meetings, putting in a toll free line for asking
questions. And a few years later, the state legislature passed a law that said
all fuel sold in the state had to include a blend of ethanol. They had to fight
the oil companies, but the law passed, and if you drive through Minnesota and
fuel up, ethanol blended fuel is what you will get. But the other thing that Minnesota
got was 15 new business. Ethanol plants. Many of them farmer-owned plants. Can
you imagine what 15 new agricultural processing businesses would do for Montana?
Most of the plants are 17 to 20
million gallons a year, although Minnesota Corn Processors is much larger, and
one that processes cheese whey into ethanol is much smaller. I have visited with
some of the farmers who are partners in the coops, and they are excited about
their hometowns. There is industry, there are jobs. And there are spin-off jobs.
The dollars are turning over and bringing some economic help to those communities.
What an example!
Are you wondering, if I believe
that strongly, why not build an ethanol plant? And you know, I tried that too.
In 1980, after many months of work, we, a group of seven farm families in Valley
County had a USDA government-guaranteed loan approved for the purpose of building
a small ethanol plant. And in January 1981, when President Reagan came into office,
it, along with a number of other loans was rescinded. In fact, any program on
alternative fuels did not fare very well during the Reagan Presidency.
Just a bit more about E10, also
known as gasohol. Our station in Nashua has carried the fuel for 20 or so years,
so I can always get the 10% blend. We use it in all of our gasoline-powered equipment,
tractors, trucks, backhoe, swather, lawn mower, and chainsaw. Everything.
And I want to touch just a minute
on another ethanol fuel blend. E85 is a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline,
and is considered an alternative fuel. The E10 is not considered an alternative
under the Energy Policy Act. And the Energy Policy Act requires certain fleets
to phase into using alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicles.
I drove here in an AFV, a 2001
Ford Taurus, built at the factory to run on E85 fuel. It is a flexible-fueled
vehicle, so when I can not get the E85, I can run it on straight gas, or any blend
up to the 85%. This is the fourth car EPAC has had that runs on E85, and we have
never had a problem. The MW&BC helps to finance the car. The only station
in Montana is in Helena, at malfunction junction where they sell both the E85
and the e10 blends. There is a station going in West Yellowstone, and there is
a station in the Park. The Park has a number of E85 vehicles and like the fuel.
Park has been a huge supporter of biofuels. both the ethanol blends and the biodiesel.
I also keep a barrel of denatured ethanol on the farm, and I put that in the car
when I leave home, so can drive on the higher blend.
In cities and states, especially
where there are more people and more pollution, you will see a number of the E-85
stations. In regards to vehicles, there are thousands and thousands of them on
the roads. Not only the Taurus, but also the Ranger, the Chrysler mini-van, Dodge
caravan and others. If you are with a company or agency that is to meet the fleet
requirement in the Energy Policy, I hope you will look first at E85. It is a fuel
that dispensed at a pump like we are used to using. It is not harmful if spilled
on your hands. It does not require specialized equipment. Mike Allen, one of EPAC’s
Board members has a paper that will make it easy to put in.
I hope the RC&Ds will move
forward to help bring ethanol production to the state. EPAC is willing to work
with you. EPAC is a non-profit group, with members in over 25 states, and a13
person elected Board of Directors. Jim Glancey is one of our Directors. TIM: By
way of educational projects, we publish a newsletter, some on back table. Have
annual conferences. The next one will be June, 9 -11, the 11th annual Montana
Ethanol Conference in Whitefish.
We do national projects too, and
recently contracted with DOE and the RBEP program to conduct ethanol workshop
for rural America. The next is to be held in North Carolina on December 12, and
recently conducted ethanol workshops in Pennsylvania.
I would like to thank you Jeff
James for helping to sponsor this program today. The RBEP program has been a great
way to get information to the public about alternative fuels. I am going to break
from an ethanol 101 speech to tell the audience that the RBEP program is in danger
of losing it’s funding, and so I am going to ask the audience, if you have any
clout with the DC guys, ask them to continue the RBEP, as this is one of the main
ways that news about alternatives gets to the public.
I will close with this, if you
think ethanol is the way to go, you can help the cause. You do not have to build
a plant, or grow the crop. When you go to your favorite service station, ASK for
it. Tell them, if they do not want to bring it in, you will go to a station that
does. Good luck, and thank you.