I n this week’s column, U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos reiterated her support for renewable fuels at last week’s National Ethanol Conference, promising to reintroduce her Next Generation Fuels Act in Congress. Also this week: Illinois Soybean Growers are irked with Gov. J.B. Pritzker for proposing the elimination of a sales tax exemption that enhances biodiesel production, and the Illinois EPA has awarded funds to two Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Illinois to improve water quality. Please read on …
Bustos to reintroduce emission standards bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Reiterating her support for renewable fuels, Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos told participants in last week’s National Ethanol Conference that she will reintroduce her Next Generation Fuels Act in the House of Representatives. The bill would require the EPA to direct automakers to use 98 RON (research octane number) instead of the current 91.
“By shifting our standards to a 98 RON, automakers could meet cleaner emission standards while improving fuel efficiency. Higher RON would also support midlevel ethanol blends like E25 and E30,” Bustos said, in a 13-minute prerecorded video she made for the virtual conference. “I believe that Congress must act to bolster our American growers, foster a market for our biofuels producers, and drive down carbon emissions in one fell swoop.”
Bustos’ legislation would further require that model year 2024 automobiles and newer be equipped to handle 98 RON fuel and higher octane blends of ethanol. In addition, all fuel infrastructure would be required to be compatible with E30 blend ethanol.
“At this moment in our history I am as committed as ever to keeping this momentum moving forward for our producers,” said Bustos. “While I am confident our ethanol producers and corn growers are in good hands with President Biden and Secretary Vilsack, more work needs to be done in Congress to strengthen biofuels.”
Bustos’ 17th Congressional District is home to 4,900 farms that harvest more than 1.5 million acres of corn, while producing almost $2 billion in annual sales of corn and soybeans.
Pritzker to nix biodiesel tax exemption?
BLOOMINGTON — The Illinois Soybean Growers group is leading the way in objections to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s recent proposal to eliminate the exemption of B11 and higher biodiesel blends from state sales tax, a standard that has been in place since 2003. In a letter to the governor, ISG Chairman Doug Schroeder said the group is committed to reconciling the proposal in a way that enhances the use of biodiesel in Illinois for improved air quality outcomes.
“As a farmer who understands that there are markets around the world for my crop, I am always reminded of the value that biodiesel has right here at home. Biodiesel adds value to my farm, my community, and my state. This last year and COVID-19 have put extra attention on air quality for all Illinoisans. Sustaining our use of B11 at a minimum and moving to B20 and higher biodiesel blends helps in promoting an Illinois product, all while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. I look forward to continuing the conversation, and working with all partners to use more biodiesel to improve our economy and public health,” Schroeder stated.
ISG stands in support of House Bill 229, which continues Illinois’ leadership in reducing dependence on fossil fuels and institutes the statewide use of B20 and higher blends. ISG is urging farmers to connect with government officials through their new Voice For Soy (Text SOY to 52886, www.voiceforsoy.org) initiative.
IEPA awards funds for watershed improvements
SPRINGFIELD — Two sensitive Illinois watershed areas will receive funding from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to improve water quality. The Sangamon County Soil and Water Conservation District will receive a $420,000 grant to help implement Best Management Practices on farms and rural properties and maintain past efforts, according to IEPA Director John J. Kim.
“Stakeholders in the Lake Springfield Watershed have been working together with federal and state partners since the 1980s to protect and improve Lake Springfield’s water quality,” said Kim. “The implementation of the past and these future Best Management Practices, plus the local landowners and producers’ commitment to operate and maintain the BMPs as designed for 10 years or longer, is a testament to just how important water quality is to everyone.”
In addition, the Coles County SWCD was awarded $106,613 to update the 2011 Embarras River Watershed Management Plan. The funds will also support development of a more specific watershed-based plan for at least one of the 15 sub-watersheds within the Embarras River Watershed. Coles County SWCD along with the project partners will also conduct education and outreach activities, including watershed meetings and field days.
“This project will update and better define the current watershed land use and opportunities for landowners and producers to adopt to further protection of the Embarras River Watershed,” said Kim. “This watershed is home not only to wonderful water resources, but also to a large group of citizens, businesses, and organizations that have embraced the water quality protection through the development and implementation of the watershed management planning process.”
GROWMARK launches myFS Solution Center
BLOOMINGTON — A new platform consisting of multiple tools allows GROWMARK customers to interact directly with their local FS Cooperative, a Feb. 17 company news release touted. The innovative digital platform, myFS Solution Center, allows FS System team members to collaborate directly with customers on matters such as order fulfillment and product recommendations.
“Our approach is to meet the customer, wherever, however, and whenever they so choose,” said GROWMARK Executive Director of Digital Strategy Keith Milburn. “In the morning, they may call to order fuel, in the afternoon, they may pick up seed, and in the evening, they may be online approving product bookings or paying invoices. Now they can do all of that through myFS Solution Center.” Currently more than 30 FS cooperatives have launched myFS Solution Center, with the remaining cooperatives gearing up for its launch.
Illinois Farm Fact:
Illinois uses 180 million gallons of biodiesel each year, returning an estimated value of $600 million to Illinois family farms annually. (Illinois Soybean Growers)