Minnesota’s ethanol industry generated more than $5 billion in total economic activity in 2011 and supported more than 12,600 jobs, according to a new report from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the Alexandria Echo Press reports.
Advanced BioEnergy, based in Bloomington, Minn., says it plans to sell its largest ethanol plant in southeast Nebraska to Flint Hills Resources, the Pioneer Press reports. The Kansas-based refiner has agreed to pay more than $170 million. Advanced BioEnergy CEO Rich Peterson told the newspaper he believes it is the highest sale price for a U.S. ethanol plant in four years.
Biofuel Energy says it's closing its ethanol plant in Fairmont until the price of corn comes down. The drought that has ravaged the Midwest's corn crop has pushed up corn prices and erased the profit margins of ethanol producers. A plant in Little Falls shut its doors this summer.
There's no word on when an idled ethanol plant in Little Falls might reopen. But plant closings are becoming more common in an industry squeezed by drought-inflated corn prices. At least seven ethanol plants in the Midwest have closed and many others are operating at reduced capacity.
The Central Minnesota Ethanol Co-Op has suspended operations until they can buy corn or sell ethanol at a better price, the St. Cloud Times reports. The Little Falls plant is using the downtime to complete maintenance and other projects, but most of the 30 employees are out of work.
Livestock farmers and ranchers seeing their feed costs rise because of the worst drought in a quarter-century are demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency waive production requirements for corn-based ethanol. The Obama administration sees no need for a waiver, siding with corn growers – many of them in presidential election battleground states Iowa and Ohio – who continue to support the mandate.
Federal law requires that gasoline be blended with ethanol or other biofuels. About 40 percent of the nation's corn now goes toward ethanol production. But in a year when dry weather will mean less corn and higher prices, Minnesota's Chip Cravaack is among Congressmen urging that more of the crop be used as food.
Judging reports from six Minnesota ethanol plants this quarter, the industry needs something to turn up the gas. The Star Tribune reports that of five of the six companies that reported earnings didn't turn a profit.
The 28th International Fuel Ethanol Workshop and Expo, the largest trade show for the country's ethanol producers, is taking place at the Minneapolis Convention Center this week. On Tuesday, the convention highlighted how the ethanol industry is faring since the expiration of a federal tax credit.
Bushmills Ethanol in Atwater has agreed to pay a civil penalty after discharging polluted wastewater from 2008 and 2011 and providing false information about those discharges.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved 20 companies to market ethanol in a 15 percent blend with gasoline.
A company based in New Hampshire that said it could build one of the world's first commercially viable "cellulosic ethanol" plants in Little Falls, Minn., is instead building facilities in Alberta and Michigan. Just a few years ago the state of Minnesota awarded the company $910,000 in taxpayer money.
The ethanol blend is usually cheaper per gallon than regular gasoline, but new research says owners of flex-fuel vehicles keep buying even when the blend's price tops the conventional choice. Why is unclear, but drivers might believe they're making a better environmental choice. The study's author says leaders should consider the findings when drafting ethanol policies.
Livestock farmers are demanding changes to the nation's ethanol policies. They say the fuel is taking up too much of the corn and that a grain shortage could cause meat prices to spike. Food producers also worry federal policies would exempt the ethanol industry from rationing during a shortage.