Advertise Here

Office Hours

Posts tagged: biofuels

Where are Spokane County’s exports going to? EX-IM Bank site explains

Is Spokane County very dependent on exporting its products?

That's a subjective call. Today's story on Sen. Maria Cantwell's (D-Wash) visit to Spokane to boost support for reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, raised the question of how many jobs depend on exports.

The numbers are a bit slippery. As Stan Key of Greater Spokane Inc. noted during Cantwell's visit, the actual totals on exports are registered at the port of departure. For many Spokane firms, that means their numbers fall into those seen for Seattle, Tacoma and Portland.

Key said he did a quick general survey of Spokane County and found firms that rely on exports employ more than 2,700 people. 

The EX-IM bank site has a handy statistical sorter to look at the total benefits extended in each state's congressional district. 

For Eastern Washington, in 2011, for instance, you'd find the following numbers: eight companies received some form of EX-IM help, either through contract assistance or insurance on payments.

The top three countries that bought products from Eastern Washington, in 2011, were: Mexico, the Phillipines, South Korea.

Also listed there is the top dog among companies here taking advantage of EX-IM offers: It's Commercial Creamery Co., based in Spokane. They're using exports to send powdered milk and cheese powder to overseas buyers.

If you think camelina is like any other crop, take a little time to dig deeper

Since stellar staffer John Stucke was on vacation this week, we had to rely on Tom Sowa to cover the recent visit by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.,  talking about a newly created federal crop support program specifically for camelina, under an effort called BCAP (biomass crop assistance program) .

This BCAP version invites Eastern Washington farmers to sign up to grow camelina, a promising biocrop for producing biodiesel and aviation fuel.

We posted the story on our Facebook page, and we found a number of concerned residents who feel this “farm to fuels” effort can be potentially bad, harmful or disruptive to normal agriculture and food production.

We don't see it that way. Camelina is not ever going to displace other serious food crops in the land. And it is unlike other designer crops, in that it doesn't need to be bio-engineered to improve yields.

We just want folks to look at some other resources that explain in better detail than our story what the feds are up to, pushing camelina into the food-fuel stream.

Here are the basic set of informational links on the program:

The BCAP fact sheet is here. A TriCities TV station's web story is here.

Rockford company gets biofuels grant

A Spokane County company has been awarded a $90,000 grant to continue developing a process that converts bluegrass straw into biofuels.

Farm Power, based in Rockford, will use the U.S. Department of Agriculture money for further work on automating controls and feedstock systems, according to a joint statement from Washington senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray.

Farm Power’s technology, with patents pending, produces methane and carbon monoxide that can be burned to produce electricity.

Farm Power Director Jack Zimmer said the grant will help move the technology towards commercialization. 

WSU, aviation groups and growers pushing biofuel alternative

One of the main news announcements this morning came by way of Boeing, Alaska Airlines and Washington State University. This is the formal announcement of an initiative to promote more biofuel use by the aviation industry.

WSU has been active in promoting this topic. The news takeaway in today’s announcement is this: an alliance of airports, airlines, industry growers and researchers will push forward with a serious study to examine how Northwest crops can be affordably used to produce jet fuel.

Bill Ayer, CEO of Alaska Airlines, was quoted saying: “Through this initiative, we are joining other key stakeholders in our region to explore the development of alternatives to jet fuel that could further reduce our carbon footprint.”

Boeing is a big partner in this project as well. WSU gets lots of credit for having spearheaded efforts over the last two years to bring together a solid group of industry and aviation specialists to sign onto the deal.  One good way to get an overview is to watch a portion of this video with WSU VP of Economic Development John Gardner. Gardner has pushed the the Northwest “farm to fuel” concept for more than a year.

The video was produced by NOTE: Start the video at the 60 minute mark to watch and hear Gardner speaking on a sustainable fuels panel in Seattle in 2009.

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.

Sign up for our business email newsletter
Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on Office Hours.


John Stucke John Stucke is a deputy city editor who helps build local news coverage and writes about health care, bankruptcy and rural affairs.

Recent work by John

Alison Boggs (@alisonboggs) Online Producer Alison Boggs posts and manages content on and its social networking accounts.

Recent work by Alison

Scott Maben Scott Maben is a Deputy City Editor who covers North Idaho news and higher education.

Addy Hatch is the city editor, and formerly was business editor.

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
Advertise Here