Ethanol Pitch at WVRC on August 30th
LEE DUNAYER led the Pledge, and readily accepted CEO CHRIS’ comment that he had learned the words from choosing others to lead…LENNY bravely suggested “School Days”, which we got though but there were some uncertain times as we proceeded.
ART HENRY stepped in to give the Invocation. “Oh God, we come before you this day as Rotarians…We pray you will bless our work, our service, the joy that we have in companionship and friendship together. We pray that you will bless all those in our community who work together for the good of this nation and for the future of all of our young”. ART, no surprise here, but you do good work!
Guests of Rotarians included SUNNY and someone suggested she really should have her own badge sounds good to me. PEGGY BLOOMFIELD had a Special Guest, Jonathan Page, Executive Director of the Jonsson Cancer Foundation. Our Visiting Rotarian was Earle Vaughn, an Assistant Governor, from Wilshire he was with us ‘inspecting’ WVRC, and I probably shouldn’t have charged him for lunch but I did! We were reminded that District Governor David Moyers will be at WVRC on September 27th, and that’s also a Spouses Day.
Other Days to Remember:
The Family Picnic, at the home or ELOISE SISKEL, on September 16th. This is always a fun event, so bring the kids and grandchildren, starting at 2:30. I have high hopes that PP PETER MORE can retake his Seed-Spitting Title from those imposters who snuck in.
September 29th, the Paul Harris Gala, at CBS Studios. We have only four spaces still open, so reserve with PP STEVE DAY. And get those RAFFLE TICKETS in, OK?
ELLIOTT TURNER came forward as our Jokester. He had a few homilies, some attributed to Mark Twain, and then the Story of the Day: In the beginning, God spoke to the Dog You are to sit on the steps of your house, and bark at anyone who comes past. For this, I’ll give you twenty years of life. That’s a long time to bark, said the dog how about ten years, and I’ll give the other ten back. On the second day, God created the Monkey and said, Entertain people and make them laugh the Monkey replied that telling jokes and entertaining for twenty years was a long time. How about the same deal the Dog got? The Cow was up on the third day, and God said, You must go into the fields, endure the hot sun, and give milk for sixty years. That’s too long how about I give you back forty, and God agreed. On the fourth day, God created Man. Eat, sleep, play, marry, and for this you get twenty years. Man replied, Only twenty years How about giving me the forty the Cow gave back, the ten from the Monkey, and the ten from the Dog? That makes a total of eighty years. God replied, well you asked for it. That’s why the first twenty are for eating, sleeping, and enjoying yourself. The next forty are for your family, working in the hot sun. The next ten you do Monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. The last ten you sit on the front porch and bark at everyone. And at the risk of enlarging his opinion of himself, YOE says, Well Done, ELLIOTT.
Preparing for the upcoming Football Season, CEO CHRIS floated two bets, referred to as Presidential Bets. He first picked on MARK ROGO, suggesting that if Idaho beats USC in their opener, MARK pays a two hundred buck fine. If USC beats Idaho, no fine. Poor MARK didn’t think this was much of a bet, but he reluctantly took it. He was roundly applauded for his courage. The second Presidential Bet concerned UCLA/Stanford, and KEVIN BADKOUBEHI became the designated pigeon.
If Stanford beats UCLA, Kevin gets to tell us a joke at next week’s meeting. If UCLA beats Stanford, no joke. But note, if the joke isn’t any good, there might be a fine.
Not to be deterred, KEVIN came forward shortly afterward to introduce our Speaker. But first, he proposed a counter-bet to CEO CHRIS. In addition to the terms already accepted, should UCLA LOSE to Stanford, KEVIN will pay Westwood Village Rotary Foundation two hundred dollars! Obviously, there is no downside to this for WVRC, so CHRIS readily accepted this new condition. KEVIN noted that prior to meeting our Speaker recently, he had not known much about Ethanol. He has learned that the U.S., currently, uses 15 billion gallons of Ethanol per year. Brazil leads the world in production, with four billion gallons annually, all from sugar cane. The major U.S. auto producers all accept Ethanol, and over two billion miles have been driven by Ethanol blends since 1980. Bruce Eisen is the President of Bel Air Capital Advisors, specializing in alternative investments. They manage nine properties in Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri, all of which produce Ethanol. His topic today is Ethanol Power.
Mr. Eisen began by pointing out that his topic today was really Green Energy. This is the fastest growing sector of the Energy field it is accepted by our government, but there are other energy sources that fit under the umbrella. These include wind power and solar sources. However, it may be a little-known fact, but all cars in California run on a blend including 10% ethanol. This additive has replaced MTBE, which was used until Ethanol came along. Every car produced in the last fifteen years is ethanol capable, but usage varies from state to state.
Our government has supported ethanol in two specific ways. First, it mandated the doubling of ethanol usage by 2012, and second, it provided tax credits for production. In addition, there is legislation providing that by 2012 all cars will run on ethanol blends ranging from 60 to 85%. This means that production of ethanol is from domestically grown plants, as opposed to the largely foreign-produced oil now being used. In addition, ethanol produces considerably less toxic emissions than gasoline, which is a major plus. President Bush has proposed that the current 4.5 billion gallons of ethanol go to 30 billion gallons by 2017. Currently the world uses 150 billion gallons of gasoline per year, so even with ethanol at 30 billion, that would only be one fifth of the total energy needed.
He showed a graph of Ethanol production. Five years ago there was almost no ethanol being produced. The curve is rapidly upward, and production occurs mostly in the Midwest. Many of the production facilities are owned by small groups - the largest of the big companies involved is ADM, which at one point had 41% of total production in the U.S. The growth has accelerated since 2005, when the ethanol-friendly legislation was first enacted. Corn is the source of almost all ethanol production in the U.S. One way to think of corn as an energy source is to recognize that we eat corn to provide energy, and so it can be refined to produce ethanol. We are the world leader in corn production, and we are the leading exporter of corn in the world. This year we will have the largest corn crop ever, and 25 to 35% of that corn will be used to make ethanol. Five years ago Ethanol took 3% of the total crop output. Question, I think from ELLIOTT TURNER: When you talk about usage, are you talking about corn only, or the cob, or the stalk? You have two products from corn liquid and solid. The cobs become feed for farm animals, the stalks are being tested as another source for ethanol or as fertilizer, and the liquid becomes mostly ethanol. So all of the corn is being utilized.
A note on land prices in Iowa. It wasn’t until 2003 that the price of agricultural land exceeded its price in 1980. So his company sees this as an investment opportunity. Even if you consider switch grass, another source of ethanol, it has to be grown somewhere, and thus agricultural land again looks good. Apparently, agricultural states have laws against corporate farming (this surprises me, YOE) which keeps out giants such as ADM.
Q&A RAY ZICKFELD, what other agricultural products can be converted into ethanol? Other than corn, sugar cane. Soybeans are used to make bio diesel. MARK BLOCK, I saw a hydrogen-powered car the other day. How likely is that as a power source? It’s a question of infrastructure, and there isn’t any of that at present. PP STEVE DAY, Is it true that the yield from sugar cane per acre is three times the yield from corn in making ethanol? Brazilian technology has been developing for twenty years, thus their ratio but there isn’t enough sugar in the US to make it profitable. ELLIOTT TURNER, Where does corn syrup figure into this mix? This is a question of food usage, and as an example, 3% of the total budget of Coca Cola is spent on corn syrup. However, remember that we are not a big sugar producer. I asked the last question Does it cost more to produce ethanol that it does to produce gasoline? There are arguments on both sides here but companies like ADM are making money on it, so that seems to favor ethanol. (And I guess I have to admit to feeling like an insider when I refer to Archer Daniels Midland as ADM…).
Thought for the Day:
Friends are those rare people who ask how we are…then wait to hear the answer.