April 27, 2017

North Dakota Farm Bureau and Electric Cooperatives Share Concerns With EPA’s Pruitt

North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer organized a meeting bringing together Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt and the North Dakota Farm Bureau and North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives in Washington Tuesday to discuss energy regulations and power generation concerns.

“I’m very grateful to Administrator Pruitt for the generosity of his time and the generosity of his spirit,” said Cramer. “Our conversation was substantive and encouraging. I think the CEOs sitting around the table from North Dakota’s rural electric cooperatives felt like they were talking to a friend and ally rather than an adversary for the first time in a very long time at the EPA.”

The meeting was requested by these two North Dakota groups to discuss regulations affecting power producers and rural electric providers. Topics discussed were the Clean Power Plan, coal ash, Waters of the United States, Regional Haze, and New Source Review.

“The administrator heard real life stories of not just thousands or millions, but hundreds of millions and billions of dollars of stranded investment by our utilities,” said Cramer. “He offered his best assurances that those will not be wasted and that there is a way moving forward to provide a regulatory regime which is state focused, that involves the stakeholders, that has real solutions for meeting the quality standards that are prescribed by the EPA and by the states, and for bringing the EPA back, as he said ‘into their lane.’”

EPA MeetingThe Farm Bureau and electric cooperatives also thanked Pruitt and the Trump Administration for the rollback of regulations looming over them during the past eight years. Ultimately, such rules would have significantly increased electricity prices impacting individuals and businesses in a competitive global market.

“Today’s meeting with Administrator Pruitt was an excellent opportunity to share how important a reliable and affordable source of electricity is to North Dakota agriculture,” said North Dakota Farm Bureau President Daryl Lies. “It is a refreshing improvement to have someone as the head of the EPA who is willing to take the opportunity to understand how we are affected by EPA rules in our part of the country.”

“We are thankful for the opportunity to have a conversation with Administrator Pruitt and Congressman Cramer about the consequences of over-regulation and how the clean power plan proposed by the previous Administration would have negatively impacted rural electric cooperatives, our members and the people we serve,” said David O’Connell, a board member of North Central Electric Cooperative and the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives.

Cramer said he was “grateful to the North Dakotans who came out to meet with the administrator, grateful to the Farm Bureau and Daryl Lies for helping line up the meeting. I think all in all it was a very good day and a very good start to a good relationship.”

Office of Congressman Cramer


Latest Buzz: Bayer Bee Care Center Announces 10,000 Visitors since Opening – Audio Visit

Bee CareIt’s not just the beehives at the Bayer Bee Care Center that are buzzing with activity. The Center recently celebrated the more than 10,000 visitors who have passed through its doors in just three years. The Center recognized a group of 75 fourth-graders and their teachers from Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, North Carolina, as the “honorary visitors” to mark the achievement.

To celebrate this success and the Center’s third anniversary, students spent the morning learning about pollinators through a hands-on, interactive guided tour and scavenger hunt. Included in the day’s festivities was an observation hive, giving students a true peek into the lives of these fuzzy friends.

We visited with Becky Langer, project manager for the Bayer North American Bee Care Program.  She said the kids got a really “hands on” experience.

Have a Listen —>    Bayer Bee Care Center 10,000 Visitors

Students also had the opportunity to participate in a learning station on the importance of pollination taught by Sweet Virginia Foundation, a newly-announced partner of Bayer’s Feed a Bee initiative. Since its launch in 2015, the program, which aims to increase food for bees and other pollinators, has planted 2 billion wildflowers across the U.S. Sweet Virginia Foundation is an educational organization that encourages elementary school students to learn about the vital role honey bees play in our ecosystem by using media-rich lessons and resources available online. In addition, each student took home a potted sunflower plant to begin their own pollinator garden.

The 10,000th visitor milestone was also commemorated with a $10,000 donation from Bayer to Project PLANTS, a Grow For It project from the JC Raulston Arboretum educating students about the science behind horticulture. The donation will support flower plantings, establishing forage and habitat for pollinators and supporting them in pollinating many of the crops and landscapes we enjoy.

In addition to its community outreach arm, the Bee Care Center houses much of the research Bayer conducts on pollinator health. From implementing Smart Hive technology for remote monitoring of hives to developing some of the first miticides available to beekeepers to combat harmful pests, Bayer has spent more than 30 years researching and developing solutions for the problems honey bees face. Some of this research will be highlighted through a webinar series during National Pollinator Week, June 19-25, 2017. More information will follow about how those interested can tune in to join researchers, partners and other stakeholders interested in bee health.

For more information on Bayer’s bee health initiatives, please visit: http://beehealth.bayer.us. You can also follow and share on Twitter @BayerBeeCare, on Facebook at facebook.com/BayerBeeCareCenter and view photos on Flickr.


Advocates Argue for Higher Advanced-Biofuel Volumes Before the D.C. Court of Appeals

Monday, the National Biodiesel Board argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2014-16. The NBB challenged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s  interpretation and use of its waiver authority under the RFS statute.

steckel“Today’s case provides a strong opportunity to defend higher advanced-biofuel volumes. Clear market signals from more robust EPA requirements will encourage continued growth in America’s advanced biofuel—biodiesel,” said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board.

Various groups are seeking to force changes to the fuel volumes required for compliance years 2014-16 and the biomass-based diesel volume for 2017. Several cases were consolidated into the one considered today. The NBB supported EPA on the cellulosic and biomass-based diesel volume arguments by pointing to D.C. Circuit Court precedent that affirms EPA’s authority and lack of harm to obligated parties. While joining various ethanol groups on arguments related to EPA’s general waiver authority, the NBB also raised numerous arguments related to EPA’s advanced-biofuel volumes.

Historically, EPA has not deviated from the advanced-biofuel volumes required by the RFS statute, even if the agency lowered other kinds of fuels’ volumes (such as cellulosic). For the first time, EPA reduced the volumes required for advanced biofuel for 2014-16. This set the advanced-biofuels industry back, because U.S. biodiesel responds to increased demand with increased production. The NBB argues that EPA exceeded its authority and failed to move the advanced-biofuel program forward as Congress envisioned.

Congress sought to increase production and stimulate investment—not simply follow the market and maintain the status quo. Reducing the required volumes based on demand-side considerations undermines continued investment and the innovation that has successfully diversified feedstocks, increased efficiencies and lowered costs.

“There is room for more aggressive growth; the U.S. biodiesel industry can do more. We hope that the court will be persuaded by our arguments and that EPA will put in place more aggressive advanced-biofuel requirements moving forward,” said Steckel. “We look forward to working with the Trump administration to realize the potential to support additional jobs and investment in rural economies.”

The RFS—a bipartisan policy passed in 2005 and signed into law by President George W. Bush—requires increasing volumes of renewable fuels to be blended into the U.S. fuel stream. The law is divided into two broad categories: conventional biofuels, which must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent, and advanced biofuels, which must have a 50 percent reduction. Biodiesel is the first advanced biofuel to reach commercial-scale production nationwide and has made up the vast majority of advanced biofuel production under the RFS to date.

Made from a diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats, biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement used in existing diesel engines. According to the EPA, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 57 percent to 86 percent compared with petroleum diesel, qualifying it as an advanced biofuel under the RFS.

NBB also has a trade case pending before the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission on biodiesel imports. The National Biodiesel Board is the U.S. trade association representing the biodiesel and renewable diesel industries, including producers, feedstock suppliers and fuel distributors.

NBB News Release