The first full day of the Fuel Ethanol Workshop (FEW) has come to end. After a kick-off talk from Ethanol Producer Magazine Executive Editor Tim Portz, the day was filled with thought-provoking talks, engaging sessions, and lively networking in the exhibit hall. To make good on our original promise to be your “eyes and ears on the ground,” here are three highlights from day one:

1. Ray Defenbaugh received the High Octane Award

According to BBI International Chairman Mike Bryan, the High Octane Award acknowledges a person who has helped the ethanol industry mature and progress over the years, a person whose passion and “unstoppable pursuits” have significantly benefited the industry.

This year, the award went to Growth Energy board member Ray Defenbaugh. After entering the stage to the song ‘Eye of the Tiger’ from the infamous boxing movie ‘Rocky’, Defenbaugh shared his thoughts about the tough fight the ethanol industry must engage in to move the market forward.

“I want to bring forward an old cliché to you,” said Defenbaugh. “’You can get a lot done if you don’t care who gets the credit.” The credit goes to a lot of people and a lot of teamwork. That’s what makes us strong.”

Appropriately so, the award winner summed up his remarks with another cliché: A person with courage is a majority.

“I would include in that ‘a group with courage is a majority.’ Let’s move forward, let’s use that courage. Don’t quit, don’t stop, and do not surrender,” finished Defenbaugh, alluding to the industry’s fight to improve the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed RFS rules announced on May 29.

2. Bob Dinneen gave the keynote presentation

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen, better known as “Ethanol Bob,” gave the keynote presentation during the general session. Dinneen did not hold back his disappointment with the EPA’s proposed RFS rules.

“I view what the EPA has done as an incomprehensible step backwards,” said Dinneen. “When the EPA gave us ‘this gift’ in 2013, they received comments from 330,000 farmers who said ‘today is not the time to roll back the RFS.’ It would appear that the EPA learned absolutely nothing from those comments.”

Dinneen continued his presentation by providing 13 ways the EPA has held back the ethanol industry.

“The EPA fundamentally does not understand the RFS,” said Dinneen. “[The] EPA doesn’t understand that the mechanism to drive investments in new technologies, to drive investments in blender pumps, and to provide the economic incentive to allow E15 to be sold is the written mechanism.”

Dinneen wrapped up his keynote by imploring the audience to “get to Kansas City” to attend the EPA’s public hearing for the newly proposed rules on June 25.

“When you’re going through hell, keep on going,” ended Dineen, quoting Winston Churchill. “That’s what we’re going to do, and we will win.”

3. Novozymes took to the stage

Senior Research Associate Derek Payne and Scientist Aaron Hawkins both took to the FEW stages today to present on behalf of Novozymes.

During Payne’s talk, he discussed the value of laboratory-scale fermentation. Hawkins’ talk provided examples of different enzyme solutions Novozymes has developed for the biofuels industry, with a specific focus on corn as the feedstock. Payne and Hawkins represent two of the four Novozymes employees presenting during this year’s conference.

Think Bioenergy will publish all four full presentations in the coming week. In the meantime, you can connect with the Think Bioenergy team online by subscribing via email or on Twitter @NZ_Bioenergy. Or, connect with us offline during the show at booth #1021.

Peter Halling

Vice President, Biofuel Commercial, Agriculture & Bioenergy at Novozymes