Archive for the ‘EPA’ Category

Impact of NASCAR on Ethanol

By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

American agriculture teamed up with NASCAR this past year thanks to your strong support of the Kansas Corn Commission checkoff and state corn checkoff programs across the nation. This past year every race car and truck in the Sprint, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series was powered by Sunoco Green E15 (an unleaded gasoline blend with 15% ethanol).

Why ethanol and why now? NASCAR has made significant steps in conservation by introducing impactful initiatives in recycling, alternative energy and carbon mitigation. The sport has taken their environmental commitment to the next level. The emissions from Sunoco Green E15 are 20% less per gallon of gas. American ethanol, is a renewable source of cleaner burning energy from the bounty of America’s farmers. American ethanol creates tens of thousands of U.S. jobs, which can never be outsourced. What’s not to love?

As we wrap up the year, it’s time to evaluate ethanol’s role in NASCAR. Let’s talk performance. Sunoco Green E15 is a high performance fuel, providing the same drivability without harming engines. The transition on the racetrack was seamless and NASCAR reports that the “E15 fuel blend has met and surpassed expectations”.

What was the “reach” of advertising and promotions? The NASCAR Green commercials ran during race coverage on Fox, ESPN, Turner and the Speed Channel, along with coverage on Sirius XM radio. This coverage translated into 690 million impressions with race fans and a media value more than $10 million.

Besides these commercials, American Ethanol received more than two hours of non-commercial exposure during race and pre-race events which is valued at an additional $14 million. This coverage includes in-car cameras, logo and text exposure with race standings and racing exports discussing the switch to American Ethanol. Additionally, more than 26 million exposures took place on NASCAR.com

To get a statistical measurement of the success of this partnership, a formal analysis of news stories was done. July 2011 was chosen as the sample month, as it was the midway point of the season. Here are the findings:

-          NASCAR Green accounted for one-third of all ethanol industry news coverage in July 2011

-          Ninety-two percent positive about ethanol in NASCAR Green Stories

-          Six-times as many NASCAR Green stories portrayed ethanol as having a net positive effect on the environment

-          Two-times as many portrayed ethanol as creating jobs

-          Two and a half-times as many portrayed ethanol as helping the American family farmer

How did it change the perception of ethanol to consumers? NASCAR fans and non-fans were both surveyed on their perceptions of American Ethanol. The results found that NASCAR fans are twice as likely to support the fact that ethanol creates hundreds of jobs and are 50 percent more likely to support the use of ethanol to increase American energy independence. Fans are also 50 percent more likely to use ethanol in their own vehicles.

Think this isn’t a big deal? Let’s talk NASCAR fans. NASCAR is the #2-rated sport on U.S. television (behind the NFL) and 30% of the U.S. adult population is a NASCAR fan. On average, viewership is 6.5 million per race and the fan base continues to grow.

As we wrap up the 2011 year, it can be noted that American Ethanol has made great strides on and off the racetrack.

Daily Californian Article on Tyrone Hayes Raises Questions on Frogs, Fibs and Scientific Method

11-15-10–Berkeley anti-atrazine research Tyrone Hayes was featured in today’s issue of The Daily Californian, the independent newspaper of the University of California-Berkeley. The article outlines Hayes’ research that claims atrazine in extremely small amounts, sterilizes and feminizes male frogs. It also documents Hayes’ ongoing fights with Syngenta Crop Protection, the main manufacturer of atrazine. Atrazine is a herbicide used on corn, sorghum, sugar cane and other crops.

In the article, Hayes strongly refuted claims that he has not shared data on his atrazine research with the Environmental Protection Agency. The article quotes one researcher who says Hayes’ research hasn’t been replicated, and another researcher who says that is irrelevant.

Reproducibility
Yale University professor David Skelly, a researcher who participated in two EPA panels that reviewed the results of atrazine studies, told the newspaper that his is not aware of anyone who has been able to replicate Hayes’ results. The concept of being able to replicate the results of research is called “reproducibility”.

But that’s not relevant, according to Gail Prins, physiology professor at University of Illinois at Chicago. She told the Daily Californian that it is not important that others have not been able to replicate Hayes’ study results. She said she trusts his methods. However, reproducibility is widely recognized as one of the main principles of the scientific method (unless Gail Prins trusts you).

Missing Data?
Syngenta toxicologist Tim Pastoor told the newspaper that Hayes’ results will not be considered reliable until he gives his raw data to EPA to evaluate. Hayes hasn’t done that. Hayes’ responded by saying that allegation is “blatantly false” and told the newspaper that he had allowed EPA into his laboratory in 2002.

In a June 18, 2010 article written by Alex Avery of the Center for Global Food Issues, titled “EPA Exposes Hayes–Again!” documents Hayes’ failure to provide proper data to EPA (information excerpted  below).

2005: Anne E. Lindsay, then-deputy director of the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, gave Hayes a hard review in testimony before the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2005.  Lindsay said EPA had never seen the results from any independent investigator published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, or the raw data from Hayes’ additional experiments. Hayes’ responded to Lindsay’s remarks in a paper recently put out by anti-pesticide activist organization, PANNA, refuting Lindsay’s 2005 testimony by pointing to a 2002 letter from EPA’s Tom Steeger praising him for sharing raw data.

2010: Illinois State Representative Dave Winters asked EPA recently if the agency had received “a complete, transparent set of raw data which could be interpreted and analyzed by the EPA and used in generating a full evaluation of his work.”  Donald Brady, Director of the Environmental Fate and Effects Division replied:  “I regret that the EPA science staff in the Office of Pesticide Programs’ EFED could not properly account for the sample sizes and study design reportedly used by the Berkeley researchers.  As a result, we were unable to complete any independent analysis to support the study’s conclusions.”

Bottom Line
Dr. Hayes’ research can’t be replicated. He won’t share his data, even with EPA. He is a self-described anti-atrazine activist, bringing his objectivity into question. It is hard to ignore these facts when considering his claims against atrazine. Let’s hope EPA still believes in the scientific process.

(By Sue Schulte, Director of Communications, Kansas Corn Growers Association, Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association)
For more information visit: http://www.ksgrains.com or http://agsense.org

Oil a Black Hole for Taxpayer Dollars

By: Mark Lambert, National Corn Growers Association, Senior Communications Manager

For years discovering how many perks, incentives and subsidies the global oil industry receives has been the Holy Grail of biofuels supporters. They are so numerous and come from so many places it is mind boggling, troubling and something akin to finding the Loch Ness monster. Thanks to Todd Neeley of DTN a hint of our true exposure is surfacing in part one of a new “must read” series.

This is critical information because consumers should know what their addiction to imported petroleum is really costing them and Big Oil has never been shy about bashing incentives for the domestic ethanol industry, the only real competition they face in the marketplace. They try to be-little the contributions of family farmers and the American ethanol industry that now produce as much ethanol as what we currently import from Saudi Arabia.

At the end of the day you have to question why a century old industry like oil, whose major players consistently rank in the Fortune 100 companies, conservatively receive 10 times the incentives received by ethanol. As Neeley says, “Using the most liberal definition of public financial support, including tax breaks on equipment depreciation and foreign investments, oil’s total benefit from the public treasury can be as much as 10 times that of ethanol.”

DTN’s tally for state and federal tax incentives for oil comes to $17.9 billion annually. All told the tax deductions, credits and other public benefits the oil industry receives, U.S. taxpayers support oil to the tune of between $133.2 billion and $280.8 billion annually. “The comparable figure exclusively for ethanol is $7.1 billion. This does not include tax credits and other incentives that both industries share, such as the blenders’ credit or VEETC”…or the roughly $7 billion to $28 billion in military costs to protect oil supplies. Let’s not forget the White Elephant of lives lost either.

Interestingly, oil interests say they need the taxpayer largesse to do research and explore for more petroleum to continue our legacy of dependence. Makes you wonder what the impact would be if they invested the $200 billion oil says they spend on research in making ethanol more efficiently and from even more sources.

And as for oil exploration, I would rather invest my money in ethanol. . We know where farmers live and what their productive capabilities are when they are challenged to meet market demand. Eight record crops in the last eight years prove it.

Original post- Corn Commentary

World Health Organization Shows Safety of Atrazine with New Standard

World Health Organization Shows Safety of Atrazine with New Standard
Growers support the WHO’s science based approach and sensible outcome

October 5, 2010–A recently released World Health Organization (WHO) document has recommended a drinking water standard of 100 parts per billion (ppb), up from the previous WHO standard of two parts per billion. The atrazine drinking water standard enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is three parts per billion. Jere White, Triazine Network chairman and executive director of the Kansas grain sorghum and corn growers associations said the recent World Health Organization’s recommendation reaffirms the safety of atrazine.

“While our EPA is in the middle of an unscheduled re-review of atrazine because of activist campaigns, the World Health Organization quietly relied on scientific evidence and found that atrazine is safe at levels up to 100 parts per billion,” White said. “Here in the U.S., activists, insisting that atrazine levels at or even below 3 parts per billion are dangerous, have led EPA and the American taxpayer on an expensive wild goose chase.”

Atrazine, a herbicide trusted by growers across America, was reregistered by EPA in 2006. The reregistration came 12 years after the beginning of EPA’s Special Review of atrazine and other triazine herbicides. In its reregistration of atrazine, EPA stated that “levels of atrazine that Americans are exposed to are below the levels that would potentially cause health effects.”  EPA announced a new set of Science Advisory Panels on atrazine October 2009 after a coordinated publicity and media campaign surrounding the release of a study by the activist group Natural Resources Defense Council. An EPA official stated Science Advisory Panels were being held in response to the activist campaign.

Some argue that EPA should follow the World Health Organization’s lead in setting less restrictive atrazine drinking water standards.

“EPA’s current drinking water standards for atrazine appear to be set at too severe a level,” said James Lamb, Ph.D., center director and principal scientist at Exponent, a scientific consulting firm. “These new findings from WHO suggest that the EPA should re-evaluate the current three parts per billion standard in order to bring it into line with the latest scientific data.”

The WHO summary and background document are available at the organization’s website, and will be included in the WHO 4th Edition of the Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality. Atrazine drinking water standards in other countries are higher than that of the United States. Canada’s standard is 5 ppb, Australia is 40 ppb and the United Kingdom is 15 ppb.

“The U.S. EPA should follow the lead of the World Health Organization and continue to rely on sound science to evaluate atrazine,” White said. “Since the Special Review began in 1995, all that our growers have asked is for EPA to follow their own guidelines and base decisions on sound scientific evidence and not activist-generated politics.”

Losing atrazine would have economic, agronomic and environmental implications. Atrazine is mainly used as an additive with many of today’s newest weed control products. Not only does it provide economical weed control to growers, it also offers a different mode of action and is longer lasting. This helps in season-long weed control, and also helps growers fight herbicide resistance in weeds. Atrazine is also vital to growers who use conservation tillage practices. By reducing or eliminating the need for tilling the ground, farmers are able to dramatically reduce energy consumption and erosion and runoff, conserve soil moisture and enrich the soil. The loss of atrazine would force many growers to return to tillage to control weeds in their fields and reverse a trend that benefits all of us.

The Kansas Corn Growers Association and Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association represent their members in legislative and regulatory issues. For more information, visit ksgrains.com. The Triazine Network, formed in 1995 at the beginning of EPA’s Special Review of the triazine herbicides, is a nationwide coalition of growers and grower groups concerned with regulatory actions surrounding the triazine herbicides including atrazine. For more information, visit agsense.org.

Lawyers Aim to Harass, Intimidate Growers in Atrazine Issue

By Jere White, Executive Director, Kansas Corn Growers Association, Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association

Sometimes, individuals and groups decide to stand up for something. In the case of many crop producers and the associations that represent them, they have decided to stand up for atrazine. Atrazine is a vital herbicide that is under attack by environmentalists, activist researchers, activist media and slick trial attorneys. These well-financed groups worked together last summer to garner enough attention to spur an unscheduled re-review of atrazine by the Environmental Protection Agency.

While farmers use atrazine in smaller and smaller concentrations, it is still an important tool to control weeds, especially in environmentally friendly “conservation” farming practices.  For example, using no-till, an increasingly popular conservation farming practice, farmers leave the previous crop stubble on field and plant the next crop in that stubble. This practice reduces runoff and holds on to nutrients and other stuff that helps crop grow in the field. Atrazine’s ability to provide residual weed control makes no-till an option for many farmers. Without it, they’d better grease up the old plow. I read an apt quote on Twitter recently—“If EPA says bye-bye to atrazine, can we get cultivators rolling fast enough?”

Looking at the information above, it’s no wonder farmers and farm organizations are standing up for atrazine in a big way. It’s no wonder that they work with atrazine’s major manufacturer, Syngenta, to support this product.

But recently, many of those organizations have been served with subpoenas from big time trial attorney firms who are hoping to net millions of dollars in judgments from the state and federal court systems. These subpoenas require grower associations to turn over volumes of information to the courts regarding their growers, including all correspondence related to atrazine, Syngenta and even the Kansas Corn Growers Association.

The subpoenas come down to one thing, clear and simple: bullying. We can’t imagine what kind of useful information they hope to find by looking through membership records, leadership programs or who paid for the ice cream at a farmer’s meeting. But the threat of legal harassment might make an organization or an individual think twice about standing up for a product like atrazine.

Since the beginning of the Special Review of the triazine herbicides including atrazine in 1994, our growers have wanted one thing: a science-based outcome through EPA. Is throwing trial attorneys and frivolous subpoenas into the mix a game changer? Will farmers be intimidated and lose their will to support atrazine? The trial attorneys forgot one thing—farmers are uniquely independent. They stand up to wind, hail, drought, floods, pests and roller coaster markets on a regular basis. Slick attorneys are scary for sure, but we don’t scare that easily.

(Note: Jere White is Executive Director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association, Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association and is the Chairman of the Triazine Network, a nationwide coalition of growers and grower groups concerned with regulatory actions surrounding the triazine herbicides including atrazine.)

EPA Gives Stakeholders Little Time for Thoughtful Responses to Atrazine Panel Questions

Monday, August 30, 2010—Some folks will burn the midnight oil trying to write written responses to EPA’s charge questions for the agency’s September atrazine science advisory panel. The questions were released Friday and comments are due Tuesday.

We have to wonder if the Environmental Protection Agency is being open and transparent in its handling of the Science Advisory Panel (SAP) on Atrazine when it gives stakeholders two working days to respond to complex charge questions for its September 15-17 meetings.

As an interested party in the EPA’s series of atrazine SAPs, we have been waiting for the release of the charge questions which will fuel the discussion at the September panel. We received them on Friday. EPA would like written responses to the question by tomorrow—Tuesday. Looking at the technical questions, it would take a month of Tuesdays to formulate answers to the questions.

Before each SAP, EPA releases a set of charge questions that the public can respond to and submit comments. The September SAP’s topic is: “Reevaluation of the Human Health Effects of Atrazine: Review of Non-cancer Effects and Drinking Water Monitoring Frequency”. That is certainly a mouthful and as one can imagine, the questions are much more detailed.

EPA has presented six multiple part questions that fill nine pages. The technical nature of the questions is great. It is difficult to see how EPA expects to get quality comments on these questions even by September 15, let alone by tomorrow.

The Obama administration continues to talk about how it operates in an open and transparent manner. However, this shows just the opposite.

To regular citizens like us, EPA’s actions raise questions and suspicions. It seems like surely some researchers received these questions in advance. These are complex scientific questions. It is difficult to imagine how one would be able to write acceptable answers in two weeks, let alone two days.

It is true that the documentation states that one could submit written responses after the August 31 deadline, but from what we understand, the late responses would not be considered in discussions at the September Science Advisory Panel.

As we continue to participate in this process, we have to wonder if we are playing by the same rules as others who are involved. We wonder if EPA is playing by its own rules and guidelines. In an open and transparent administration, citizens should not have these concerns.

Why Profane Emails from Atrazine Scientist Tyrone Hayes Are Important

By Sue Schulte, KCGA/KGSPA Director of Communications

Syngenta, the primary maker of atrazine, recently filed a complaint with UC-Berkeley, citing years of profane and threatening emails from its anti-atrazine researcher Tyrone Hayes. The company released a 102-page document of the e-mails that Syngenta employees had received from Dr. Hayes. Nature, New York Times, Gawker, Washington Times, Science Now and others have reported on the complaint, but the articles mostly focus on the wild e-mails from Dr. Hayes. Today’s media gravitates toward sensationalism and Dr. Hayes’ emails certainly provide fodder for that type of reporting. On-line articles on the Hayes emails feature headlines nearly as sexually explicit as his emails.

Most of the environmental activists have simply shrugged off the 102 pages of often-explicit emails. They claim the complaint is simply a red herring to distract EPA as it continues through a series of atrazine science advisory panels that the agency initiated after an activist-driven media blitz that occurred about this time last year. They claim this is just a guy communicating the way he is comfortable with—you know, free speech and all that stuff.

We have known for years that Dr. Hayes was an activist scientist who actively campaigns against atrazine. He has an anti-atrazine website, goes on speaking tours; Houghton Mifflin published a children’s book about him. Thankfully, they did not include any of Dr. Hayes’ email prose—it wouldn’t be suitable for kids, (or most adults for that matter).

In 2006, EPA estimated that an atrazine ban would cost corn farmers $28 per acre. In today’s world, that number is surely higher. Couple that with the fact that atrazine is a necessity for many farmers who are using no-till practices that have numerous environmental benefits, and you can see the value of atrazine not only to farmers but also the environment. This is why farmers are actively involved in EPA’s latest re-re-review of atrazine.

At a glance, this flare-up seems to be more fluff than substance. So what if the guy blew off some steam in some e-mails, who hasn’t done that? But when we looked at the e-mails, we ignored the ones that talked about forced sexual acts and self adulation. We looked at the ones where he talked about his own scientific integrity.

After a toxicology meeting in early 2008 (SETAC), Hayes sent a Syngenta employee a rambling six-page “manifesto”. In it, Dr. Hayes says he doesn’t care about professionalism. He says he was invited to speak because he puts on a great show. The ellipses in the text were placed by Hayes. And IDGAF means, I don’t’ give a f***.

“IDGAF! Come on?????…do you think I care about propriety and professionalism? I do what I do, because it’s what I do…IDGAF!!! Look, my first SETAC, I rolled up 15 and 15!… autograph- signing, room-packing, rhyme-busting, *ss-whoopin… and toldem’ “please don’t ever invite me back” …I have used the “F-word” in my talks, have quoted DMX, Busta Rhymes, Tyra Banks, Marvin Gaye…I have jumped off stage, brandished emails…entitled my talks everything from “Opening up shop” (from DMX’s “Stop, drop, shuttem’ down, open up shop”) and “America’s Next Top Model” ….I pack the room, havem’ call out security, was the stimulus for the “Hayes clause” at registration, and have been invited back every year. That’s my house, Trick! Do I care what you, (deleted) and your *ss kissin’ H*’s think?

I’ve already been invited to the next one…guess people like being entertained.”

The New York Times said in its story on Dr. Hayes this week: “The Syngenta-Hayes battle is driven in no small part by Hayes’ unique willingness to wear two hats, those of outspoken atrazine critic and objective scientist.”

After reading the 102 pages of Tyrone Hayes’ emails, we can’t believe that is an accurate description of Dr. Hayes. We believe Dr. Hayes wears one hat—that of an outspoken atrazine critic.

EPA found his past amphibian research to be worthless. In 2005, Anne Lindsay, then a top official in EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs at EPA said: “EPA has taken an especially close look at the research conducted by Dr. Tyrone Hayes which reports that atrazine adversely affects sexual development in frogs, causing a mixture of sex organs in a single animal. EPA has concluded that the existing data are insufficient to demonstrate that atrazine causes such effects. The Agency’s conclusions are supported by the independent, expert peer review of the SAP (Science Advisory Panel).”

We hope the agency resists the urge to be entertained by Dr. Hayes, and simply uses the scientific process to evaluate his current research.

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